More than 30, 000 dock workers all over India took part in the mass protests – “dharana” – including all twelve primary ports, as a part of a national day of action against government corporatization plans, as reported by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
The Indian government has come up with a proposition to amend the Major Port Trust Act of 1963, which up till now has protected the port status. If the amendment is to be carried out, it would mean that the major ports become autonomous, corporate bodies. The unions have expressed their concerns that this would only result in paving the way for future privatization.
In a written statements that was read out to the protesting dock workers, S. R. Kulkarni, president of the Transport & Dock Workers’ Union & All India Port & Docks’ Federation, commented :
“Port workers have been an integral part and a big reason for the ongoing success of India’s primary ports, which now account for about 2.75% of the global maritime trade. We must provide protection to our ports’ workforce and assets, and thus we send out our appeal to the Indian government for it to cancel its plans regarding the amending of the Major Port Trust Act and the subsequent corporatization process of the major ports. If it however fails and neglects to do this, port and dock workers will have no other option but to intensify their current protests.”
The TDWU Mumbai has planned a public meeting on the 29th of January in the Mumbai Port in order to raise awareness regarding the issues among port workers, warehousing employees, transport workers and other contract workers.