Home » Eleven 11 major port trusts to turn land lords, offer a special VRS to employees

Eleven 11 major port trusts to turn land lords, offer a special VRS to employees

by Raju Vernekar
0 comment 3 minutes read

IT Correspondent
Mumbai, June 22:

The trade Unions are up in arms against the decision of the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways to privatise 11 major ports across the country by offering a special voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to its nearly 30,000 employees.
In a recent letter to Port Trust Boards, the Shipping Director Vinaykumar Prajapati has reiterated the SVRS for the port employees announced by the Government of India earlier. Under the scheme, those seeking VRS will not be allowed to undertake job in any other port. Similarly, no jobs will be offered to their heirs. The employee seeking VRS will have to give three months’ notice to the management.
The parliament has already passed the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 in February 2021, converting ‘port trusts’ into ‘port authorities’, in the biggest structural reform of 11 of the 12 ports controlled by the Central government.
Major Port Authorities Bill
Under the new law, the 11 ports will don the role of landlords – a model widely followed globally wherein the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord, while private companies carry out cargo handling activities. Now the port authority will maintain the ownership of the port, while the infrastructure will be leased to private companies who will provide and maintain their own superstructure and install their own equipments to handle cargo. The landlord port, in return, will get a share of the revenues from the private entity. Accordingly, the cargo handling facilities run by the ports themselves will have to be privatised through the Public-Private-Participation (PPP) mode, putting a question mark over the fate of thousands of workers deployed for cargo operations.
Unless the ports are converted into companies, the government cannot list them on the stock exchanges and potentially disinvest or privatize them. Corporatisation will also help the government receive dividends from these ports.
Workers unions
However the unions claim that the new scheme will open a Pandora box to private companies. They fear that the government would issue an order using Section 53 of the proposed Act to achieve this long-pending objective. “The Board (of each port authority) will be bound by such directions on question of policy as the Central Government may give in writing from time to time,” according to Section 53. This will give a long rope to the capitalists.
SVRS scheme
Different ports are in the process of working out different type of SVRS schemes. The JNPT in Navi Mumbai, is offering workers 60 days emoluments (Basic plus DA) for each completed year of service or 30 days emoluments (Basic plus DA) for each month of balance service, whichever is less, without any ceiling.
A total of 25939 employees covered under the SVRS include: Kolkata Port-3772, Paradip Port- 378, Visakhapatnam-3150, Chennai-3953, Chidambaran-691, Cochin-1394, New mangalore-602, Marmugao-1513, Mumbai-6430, JNPT-1473 and Deendayal Port-2203.
However some of the port trusts, including Mumbai Port Trust are facing a resource crunch to spend heavy amount to the employees towards SVRS and are in the process of approaching the Central Government to tide over this difficulty.

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