Cochin Strike Ends

Cochin Strike Ends

Dockworkers called off their strike at India's Port of Cochin Feb. 9 after the Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the state and the port to retain operations at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal for three months.

The High Court said they will look into the issues raised by the unions and direct the central and state governments to form a committee to study the issues and find a solution as early as possible.

The RGCT will continue to handle coastal operations for three months, and DP World is free to start export/import cargo operations in Vallarpadam as scheduled or continue the entire operation in RGCT.

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Workers were demanding job protection as the port authority planned to shift all container operations to a new DP World-developed terminal in nearby Vallarpadam.

DP World Cochin said it is on schedule for the Feb. 11 launch of its International Container Transshipment Terminal, the country's first transshipment facility.

The ICTT, built at a cost of $500 million, is expected to offer annual capacity of 1 million 20-foot equivalent units in the first phase.

The Trade Union Coordination Committee, comprising all major labor federations in the port, launched an indefinite strike Feb. 2 demanding job protection for some 10,000 existing workers who were likely to be rendered jobless with the commissioning of the new private container terminal.

The seven-day strike had crippled operations at the west coast port near the southern tip of the subcontinent. Several vessels were stranded at the outer anchorage and many more were scheduled to arrive. "If the strike is not called off immediately, carriers would be forced to skip Cochin calls and divert vessels to neighboring ports," a shipping line agent said Tuesday.

-- Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at tgallagher@joc.com.