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Kochi, Jan. 27

The Cochin Port Employees Organisation, one of the leading trade unions in the port, held a seminar on ‘Does the Growth of the Port Signal Decline in Jobs?'Speaking at the seminar, the Port Trust Chairman, Mr N. Ramachandran, pointed out that the commissioning of the international container trans-shipment terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam and the LNG terminal at Puthuvypeen will provide more jobs for thousands of workers employed in shipping-related activities in Willingdon Island.

Admitting that some jobs of private labourers employed in the port area would be lost, he said this would be compensated by enhancing the container freight station (CFS) activities by Kochi Port.

The port workers who lose their jobs with the commissioning of Vallarpadam Terminal will be redeployed. The 300 employees who are on deputation to DP World will not become jobless, as the port has already chalked out ways to redeploy them by expanding the activities related to the container freight station owned by the port, he said.

Countering the arguments of the Chairman, the trade union leaders said redeployment of labour is unviable unless the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal (RGCT) is retained as a container terminal.

They pointed out that the denial of employment to the port labour is unjustifiable, and this will have repercussions for labour in the private sector.

Therefore the leaders were of the view that the RGCT should continue handling coastal containers.

To revive the container terminal and employ the labour, they suggested that the port should procure sufficient equipment, handle empty containers and also take up stevedoring in a big way.

Mr C.S. Kartha, representing Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the new contractor for lashing/unlashing work at ICTT should take steps to engage some of the workers in ships in the terminal.

Likewise, CFS modernisation plans of the port management should provide more jobs.

The management and trade unions should give preference to the workers for all future port-related jobs in Willingdon Island, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 28, 2011)
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