Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Nhava Sheva), India’s top container handler, is bracing for a potential shutdown starting Oct. 8 as last-minute conciliatory talks to avert a labor dispute at the APM Terminals facility broke up Thursday, port sources said.
Local labor federations, representing dockworkers at APMT Mumbai, are demanding the immediate reinstatement of four workers, including three union leaders, fired for taking industrial action in May that lasted four days.
Officials said during negotiations held with the assistance of port management, union leaders also insisted the private terminal operator hire another 100 “project-affected people” from the area.
“Should we not be in a position to make a breakthrough, we expect container movements in and out of the terminal and JN Port area will be adversely impacted and thereby affecting terminal operations as well,” APMT said.
APL India in a notice to customers said the protest, which is supported by all local political parties, could disrupt entire port operations and business activity in the area.
“If the strike occurs, our IEX Service between India and the U.S. East Coast will be affected, resulting in possible missed shipping connections,” OOCL India said in a trade advisory.
The terminal authority earlier said the disciplinary action was justified and appealed to labor groups to help restore normal operations at the terminal in the overall interest of its workforce and shipping trade.
APMT is Nehru’s largest container facility with an estimated annual throughput capacity of 2.25 million 20-foot equivalent units.
Meanwhile, Nehru’s capacity expansion plans suffered yet another blow when two shortlisted bidders pulled out of a global tender to build and operate a new container facility at the port on an 18-year concession.
Port sources said DP World, which operates a terminal at the port, was the lone bidder for the $120 million project covering an extension of the port-owned container berth by 1,082 feet as the bidding process ended Thursday. The Dubai-based company reportedly offered a 29 percent revenue share as annual royalty to the landlord port. "As there is only one bidder, the board will meet shortly to decide on award of the contract," an official said.