Backlog remains after Chennai strike ends

Backlog remains after Chennai strike ends

CHENNAI -- The two-week strike at P&O Ports' Chennai Container Terminal ended late Saturday but a backlog of thousands of containers remains on the docks.

The agreement between management and union workers was not made public, but sources said employees agreed to return to work while wage negotiations continue. Management agreed that there would be no retaliation against strikers, and revoked suspension orders against four employees.

Normal operations resumed at the terminal Sunday. Terminal executives said an estimated 8,000 containers held up by the strike will be cleared in a week. Priority is being given to import containers to ease congestion at the terminal's yard; clearance of export containers will begin in a day or two.

Chennai Port Trust said eight ships had to be diverted to other ports because of the strike. Three ships were berthed at the terminal on Sunday.

Chennai is a major gateway for trade in southern India, and the strike cost an estimated $5 million loss to business, according to Ashok Thakkar, vice president of the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce.

-- N. Vasuki Rao