Operations at the Port of Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva) were severely disrupted Tuesday after dock workers at India’s largest container gateway joined a 24-hour nationwide general strike.
“Work at [the port] is at a ‘total standstill’ because of the strike. Even vessels on berth at the two privately operated cargo terminals are unable to sail out as the flotilla crew is also on strike,” a shipping line agent at Nhava Sheva said. “There is no other movement in the port, including offloading inland container trains.”
Unionized dockers also walked off the job at other major state-owned ports, including Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin and Kolkata. The strikes, along with infrastructure shortcomings, are some of the major hurdles the country faces in raising its profile in world trade.
The industrial action, protesting the central government’s ‘labor policies,’ was slated to continue until midnight Tuesday. Nearly 60 percent of India’s total containerized export and import cargo moves through Nehru.
Besides dockworkers, state and union government employees from other sections were also participating in the one-day protest, which followed a series of similar nationwide stoppages over the past two years.
The Trade Union Coordination Committee, representing 11 major labor federations, launched the latest strike to exert pressure on the government to review its proposed changes in public-sector organizations, particularly covering divestment of state ownership and increased foreign direct investment in the banking, retail and insurance sectors. Other grievances included burgeoning inflation and the lack of social security in the unorganized sector.