GPL workers clash with cops

GPL workers clash with cops

GPL workers clash with cops, Agitating workers at Gangavaram Port Limited (GPL) clashed with the police causing tension in the port area for a few hours on Tuesday.

Visakhapatnam: Agitating workers at Gangavaram Port Limited (GPL) clashed with the police causing tension in the port area for a few hours on Tuesday. The dharna was called by Gangavaram Port Employees’ Union (GPEU), affiliated to CITU. The police present in large numbers tried to prevent the dharna and stalled the workers half-a-km away from the main gate. Except minor skirmishes, no major incident was reported from the port. There were no arrests either.

One of the agitators tried to hoodwink the police to enter the port administrative building. He threw chilli powder at the police personnel, but was overpowered by them. Senior police officers appealed to the trade union leaders to maintain calm and organise the protest in a peaceful manner.

Addressing the workers, GPEU honorary president B Gangarao alleged that Gangavaram Port had assured employment to 600 displaced persons but till now it had employed only 508 persons. The port promised the fisherfolk to construct a jetty but failed to keep its word. Mr Rao said that despite earning crores of rupees, the port was paying low wages to the workers. “Even senior workers were not given wages on par with the Visakhapatnam Port Trust,” he said.

CITU leaders and the employees’ union leaders demanded regularisation of contract workers, payment of minimum wages and implementation of labour laws. They said Gangavaram Port should also provide bonus of Rs 12,000 to the workers as against the existing bonus of Rs 3,500.

Later, senior leaders of the union submitted a representation to the management representatives of Gangavaram Port. The management indicated that it would hold negotiations with the union representatives shortly to sort out the pending issues.

GPL clarifies on workers’ agitation
Meanwhile, the management of Gangavaram Port Limited (GPL), referring to the ongoing agitation, clarified here on Tuesday that all the employees recruited under the Relief and Rehabilitation quota were already regularised.

In a release, it said those employees who raised issues were provided employment on humanitarian grounds but not against any vacancies.

About the payment of wages, it claimed that the wages were the best in the industry and nearly 33 per cent more than the existing minimum wage and statutory contributions like PF, ESI and bonus.

“The GPL cannot pay wages on par with a major port like Visakhapatnam Port Trust, which is being assisted by the Central government,” it said.

About the disciplinary action against a few workers, it said this measure was taken to maintain discipline at the work spot as most workers were habituated to attending duties in drunken state and absconding from the work spot. This measure was not to single out or victimise any individual employee, it said.

“Two employees have been terminated as one was involved in illegal activities like running a belt shop, while the other person was involved in a forgery case. The two terminated employees, with the support of CITU, were instigating the agitators by misleading the employees who secured jobs under the R&R package,” it alleged.

The management said that the Gangavaram Port Services (GSS) was a cent per cent subsidiary of GPL and there was no disparity in service conditions between GSS and GPL. Besides, ESI was implemented to all GPS employees.

Promotions were based on performance and capability of individuals and it was not the right of the workers. It said since the employees were covered under ESI Act, there was no question of providing a separate medical policy and the Gangavaram Port was implementing labour laws applicable to even contract workers.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, it has provided two buses free of cost – one for Gangavaram and the other for Dibbapalem village to facilitate fisherman going to the Vizag Fishing Harbour, it said.

A survey conducted by a committee appointed by the Collector said that only 189 fish vending women of Gangavaram village were eligible for the package and it was approved by the Collector against 677 applications that were received.

The port management was always alert in attending to the needs of the employees by offering best wages with good working conditions, the release added.

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