Millennium Post

Port workers get 10.6% wage hike

Mumbai: The shipping ministry on Thursday signed a new wage settlement pact with employees at state-run ports, under which workers will get a 10.6 per cent hike, which will cost the ministry Rs 560 crore per year.

Under the agreement, signed between worker unions and the management in presence of Union minister Nitin Gadkari here, workers and pensioners will get a 10.6 per cent 'fitment' on basic pay and dearness allowance for a five year period starting 2017.

"Overall financial implication by this settlement for all the major ports for serving and pensioners is likely to be about Rs 560 crore per annum," an official statement said on Thursday, adding 32,000 workers and 1.05 lakh group C&D pensioners will benefit through the wage hike.

The last hike was of 10.5 per cent, but this is the first time that the negotiations have happened in a cordial way where the workers have not resorted to any industrial action to press for their demands, Mumbai Port Trust chairman Sanjay Bhatia said.

Gadkari welcomed the mutual consent and cooperations shown by the workers and made it clear that higher profits, revenue and efficiency at the ports is necessary for better payouts.

"We are not against workers and do not want to remove any workers, but there is a need for better commercial performance which alone can ensure better salaries," Gadkari made it clear.

Pointing out to a limited budget provision of Rs 800 crore for the ministry, Gadkari said additional resource mobilisation by the ports is the key.

He added that capital investment is needed for generating employment in the ports sector.

Over Rs 3 trillion of the Rs 16 trillion in investments under the Sagarmala programme have already been set in motion, Gadkari said, adding that the ministry has taken a cluster-based approach for attracting investments.

The upcoming special economic zone adjoining the country's largest container port, JNPT, will alone be leading to creation of 1.25 lakh new jobs in next four years, Gadkari said, stressing that locals should be given a preference in such opportunities.

He also said that unions often have an ideological bias leaning towards the Left, but underlined the need to work together sans any differences for collective good.

Gadkari said the government, which abandoned corporatisation in the state-run 'major ports' earlier, had appointed a consulting firm to come up with suggestions for improving performance.

Of the 120 suggestions received, over 100 have been implemented and this has led to an increase in port efficiencies and profits, he said.

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