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Stevdore labor will be the next casualty in major ports

The Port labourers attached to the stevedores and short handling agents working in major ports will be the next casualty once the Major Port Authority Bill is adopted by the rajya sabha in the next two months and made the law of the land.

Once the law comes into force when the ports will be converted to the landlord model as in Kamarajar port the port adminstration will have no role in indenting of workforce for cargo handling operations.

The fate of the age old system prevailing in all major ports with Stevedores and shore handling agents hiring thousands of workers for handling dry bulk cargo in non mechanized facilities hang in balance. In all probability the Stevedore system, the last vestige of cargo handling operations of yesteryears, may be disbanded.

With the ushering in of the liberalisation era, work force in Chennai port brought down from 25,000 to 7000 at present

The Major Ports used to have several layers  of work force including those attached to the Dock labor board to work on board the ships and clearing and forwarding workers to work on the shore. With the ushering in of the liberalisation era, these sections have been packed home and strength of the work force in Chennai port for example which used be around 25,000 about ten years ago has been brought down to nearly 7,000 at present.

The neighboring Kamarajar port is run with a work force of less than one hundred as the port has adopted the land lord model, under which the berths are given on lease to private operators to handle cargo.

Stevedores and shore handling agents load and unload bulk cargo from and onto ships from the major port trusts run non-mechanised, common user facilities after buying licenses from the port authorities by paying an annual fee depending on the port. These entities are engaged directly by the exporters and importers based on competitive quotations to load and unload cargo.

The cargo berths/terminals run by the port trusts would be privatised when they are converted under a new law currently awaiting Rajya Sabha approval.

Under the proposed Bill, port authority to act as landlord while private firms carry out operations

The Port Authority which replaces the existing trust model formed under the proposed Major Port Authorities Bill will play the role of a landlord – a model widely followed globally wherein the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord while private firms carry out port operations, mainly cargo handling activities. The landlord port, in return, gets a share of the revenue from the private entity.

“Major ports will be moving from managing their operational services on their own to a model where a private partner will manage it for them,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech on February 1.

Stevedores and shore handling agents face threat to their existence once cargo terminals privatized

Stevedores and shore handling agents have urged the Ministry of ports, shipping and waterways to re-consider the policy to privatise the cargo terminals at Centre-owned port trusts that are run by the State, since they faced a threat to their existence.
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