Mechanised berths face opposition from Haldia dock staff
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The decision of Kolkata Port Trust's board of trustees to opt for mechanised six berths at Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) by placing Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHCs) has been opposed by the employees who feel around 1,200 people working at the dock could lose their jobs if such mechanisation is process is introduced.
The nine-member committee formed to resolve the Haldia Port deadlock issue on Friday decided to go for mechanization of all the berths at the HDC through tendering. The process to mechanize berth 4B was initiated earlier by the management but had to be put on a backburner due to the workers' protest.
The employees of the dock under the banner Haldia Dock Bachao Committee submitted a memorandum to the KoPT officials on Saturday protesting against the decision. According to them, if mechanisation takes place in the remaining berths — 4B,5,6,7,9, &13 — only with MHCs as proposed then KoPT will stand to lose Rs 320 crores in the contract period of 10 years and around 1,200 port employees engaged in onboard operations will lose their jobs. The Haldia port will loose Rs 32 crore annually for every berth by employing MHCs, said Ramakanta Burman, general secretary of Haldia Dock Officers Forum.
The board of trustees also directed the port management to write to Haldia Bulk Terminal (HBT) seeking its specific comments on the committee's recommendation of to go for mechanised berths. The HBT will also be asked to resume operations at berths 2 and 8 of the HDC by October 19. If it doesn't respond positively, it will be presumed that HBT is no longer interested in carrying out business at the HDC and suitable steps will be initiated as per the agreement signed between the company and KoPT, the board said. The KoPT management will also seek the state government's intervention on labour issues.
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