Demanding job security and proper implementation of labour laws, thousands of workers of Krishnapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district participated in a protest ‘Chalo Krishnapatnam Port’ on Monday, June 29. Workers’ unions are arguing that the protest is necessitated as the management has reportedly been forcing workers to resign and allegedly threatening workers to not unionise.
While over a thousand workers participated in the protest demonstration, the district police have reportedly booked a criminal case against several leaders and workers for organising the protest.
The Adani Group’s Adani Ports and SEZ Ltd (APSEZ) is in the process of acquiring 75% stake in the Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd (KPCL) at around Rs 13,500 crore from Navayuga Group.
About 10,000 workers in the port are worried about their job security as new contractors are taking over the reign of the port after Adani made the acquisition deal, said K Ajay Kumar, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) state vice president and Nellore district general secretary. “In December last year, both Navayuga and Adani’s management had assured unions that they will continue all the existing employees and workers but, in the last two months, hundreds of workers are being forced to submit their resignations and already 187 workers have been removed. The new contractors are now threatening to remove workers if they unionise,” alleged Ajay Kumar.
Among the demands put forward by the workers include payment of minimum wages, pending salaries and bonuses, and proper implementation of labour laws in the port among others.
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In a letter to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, CITU secretary M A Gafoor urged that the government must intervene and ensure the payment of pending salaries to the transport workers, hamalis, container terminal operators, security guards and other unorganised workers in the port. “Workers who have been working for the last 13 years in the port must be regularised and should be accepted as Adani’s employees,” demanded Gafoor.
“As per the district collector’s directions, the minimum wage to be paid in the district is Rs 327 per day. However, sweepers, most of whom are women, are being paid as low as Rs 200 per day. On top of this, workers are being forced to work for more than 12 hours against the 8 hour work rule,” said Ajay Kumar. He added that the new management under Adani Group is not even ready to negotiate with the workers on their grievances.
The protesting workers also raised concerns over lack of safety precautions in the port to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Ajay Kumar alleged that the management brought back migrant workers from Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand in five buses who had returned to their homes during lockdown, but they were not quarantined nor any tests were conducted on them. “Six migrant workers in the port have already tested positive for COVID-19,” he added.