Container truck drivers at India’s Port of Cochin Monday night launched an indefinite strike, halting cargo movements to and from India Gateway Terminal, which is managed by DP World.
The Trade Union Coordination Committee, representing all major labor groups in the port, is demanding wage improvements and additional benefits.
“Container trucking activity is at a virtual standstill and if the strike is not called off immediately, shippers will be forced to divert time-sensitive cargoes to neighboring ports,” a shipping line agent at Cochin said.
By The Numbers: U.S. Container Trade With India.
Union leaders said drivers had been demanding wage increases since May and despite several hearings before local labor authorities, no decision was made on wage revision and social security benefits.
Reports said negotiations aimed at resolving the impasse between the port terminal authority and striking drivers over a new wage contract had not begun as of Tuesday afternoon.
The labor action comes at a time when the port authority is gearing up to launch its International Container Transshipment Terminal under a 38-year concession agreement with DP World. The $500-million project, touted as India’s first transshipment facility, is expected to offer an annual capacity of 1 million 20-foot equivalent units in the first phase, increasing to 3 million TEUs when fully developed.
Cochin handled 290,000 TEUs in fiscal 2009-10 ending March 31, up from 261,000 TEUs the previous year. Throughput for the April-October period, the first seven months of fiscal 2010-11, increased to 197,000 TEUs from 174,000 TEUs on a year-on-year basis.