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Court: retain port terminal for 3 months

Special Correspondent

Government, port authorities told to address concerns of trade unions


Unions expressed fears over loss of jobs

Despatch of containers sought


KOCHI: The High Court on Wednesday directed the Central government and the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) authorities to retain the Rajiv Gandhi container terminal at Willingdon Island for three months for handling domestic cargo, instead of the earlier proposal to shift it to the Vallarpadam terminal.

Undertaking

Justice P.N. Ravindran also recorded an undertaking of the trade unions representing the striking workers that they were withdrawing the strike. The court said that in order to bring the striking employees back to the negotiating table, the Rajiv Gandhi container terminal should be retained at Willingdon Island as an interim measure.

The counsel for the trade unions also submitted that the workers would go back to the negotiating table if the terminal was retained at Willingdon Island. The court also directed that the Union government, Kerala government and the Port authorities to address the concern expressed by the trade unions over the loss of jobs of 1,000 workers, in consultation with India Gateway Terminal Private Ltd.

The unions feared that workers would lose job once the terminal was shifted to Vallarpadam.

The court gave the directives while disposing of a writ petition filed by the Seafood Exporters Association of India, Mangala Seafood Exim Private Ltd. and Kitex Garments Ltd.

The association also sought a directive to the Cochin Port Trust authorities to immediately dispatch the 129 containers of marine/sea food products that were lying in the dock due to the strike by a section of the employees of the Steamer Agents Association and United Stevedores Association.

The petitioners pointed out that the workers went on a strike without notice and the strike had brought to a halt the functioning of the terminal.

The goods sent to the terminal still remained at the port.

As many as 129 containers of seafood worth Rs.39 crore could not be sent to various destinations owing to the strike.

Despatch of goods

The court observed that once the operation of the terminal recommenced, the CPT could take steps to ensure that the goods in the port were dispatched.

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