Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Nhava Sheva), India’s top container handler, is bracing for yet another disruption to shipping as unionized dockworkers at the APM Terminals facility have threatened to launch an indefinite strike Sept. 24.
APMT is one of three container-handling facilities in Nhava Sheva Port, which accounts for more than half of India’s total containerized traffic.
Local labor federations are demanding the immediate reinstatement of four workers, including three union leaders, fired for taking industrial action in May that lasted four days.
“The management has refused to take back the four supended workers. We are now left with no other option but to call for an indefinite work stoppage,” a labor representative said.
APM officials said the disciplinary action was taken based on the findings of an independent inquiry commission. “The inquiry confirmed the charges levelled against these four workers,” they said.
Shipping circles said the strike could cripple port operations as protestors, supported by local political parties, plan to picket the terminal gates.
Nehru dockworkers staged a four-day shutdown campaign in March over delays in settling compensation packages for the “project-affected persons”, costing the port authority over $30 million in lost business. The long-pending dispute was resolved last month after the government ordered the port authority to release 274 acres of land for the purpose of settlement.
Nehru’s capacity expansion program suffered a major setback earlier this week with the cancellation of a $1.5 billion contract awarded to Singapore’s PSA International for construction of its much-delayed fourth container terminal on a 30-year operating concession.