Strike ends at India’s largest container terminal

Strike ends at India’s largest container terminal
Vessels are expected to be back on schedule by the end of the week

An eight-day long strike is over after bringing operations to a standstill at India’s largest container terminal, Gateway Terminals India (GTI) in Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port.

Rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) crane operators resumed their shifts yesterday morning (12 August) and vessels are expected to be back on schedule by the end of the week.

An agreement was reached between the RTG operators’ union, local leaders and GTI management at a meeting, chaired by the JN Port chairman on Tuesday (11 August).

Outsourced RTG operators, who wanted a direct contract with the terminal operator, APM Terminals, initially went on hunger strike at the end of July before they brought operations to a halt last week.

A source at GTI, also known as APM Terminals Mumbai, told CM: “The demand for direct employment has been dropped and any concerns of the RTG operators will be addressed through mutual dialogue and discussions. The RTG operations will remain under contract.”

The strike, which also resulted in congestion at the port’s other container terminals, was called “illegal” by the regional labour commissioner in a letter to the operators’ union, citing that a valid collective bargaining agreement was in place.

During the strike, approach roads to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT) and Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT) became congested, affecting the movement of import/export containers between the port and container freight stations.

Several vessels, meant for GTI, were diverted to the above terminals while others had to seek alternative ports to berth at.

Some shipments have had to be discharged at Colombo and arranged onto third party feeders, while another ship chose to call at Pipavav first, further north on India’s west coast.

A number of shipping lines have issued surcharges on cargo to compensate for operational cost increases caused by the standstill.

Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) said that all cargo shipped on its services from Asia for discharge at JNPT will attract an emergency surcharge of $150 per teu and $300 per feu, starting 15 August.

CMA CGM has also chosen to implement the same surcharge from 15 August, citing increased operational costs from the terminal shutdown, which it described as a “force majeure” event.

In the fiscal year of 2014/15, JN Port handled 4.46m teu, with APMT Mumbai contributing 2.01m teu. APMT Mumbai is a joint venture between APM Terminals (APMT) and state-owned rail operator Container Corporation of India.