India: Wildcat strike following docks death

Haldia port
Haldia port

Ships were stranded at India's Haldia port after the workers walked out following the death of a colleague.

Submitted by Steven. on December 7, 2007

The death, ironically, came at a time when the port trust is observing a ‘Dock Safety Week’.

Express India reported that Lakhsmipada Metia (45), a group-D worker at the port, was hit by a payloader on Wednesday evening. He was rushed to the Haldia Dock Complex hospital, but due to the lack of medical facilities there, had to be taken to Kolkata. He succumbed to his injuries on the way, around 6.30 pm.

Work at the dock came to a standstill from 10 pm on Wednesday and the deadlock continued on Thursday. Cargo handling operations, including loading and unloading, were disrupted at ten of the berths at the dock and several vessels were stranded at the port.

Workers assembled outside the dock hospital and protested against the lack of medical facilities.

In the evening, members of the Kolkata Port Trust and the workers’ union at the Haldia dock met to discuss the issues raised.

The workers’ union has demanded that the medical facilities at the dock hospital be immediately upgraded and a job be provided to a member of Metia’s family.

Admitting the need for better medical expertise and facilities at Haldia, the chairman of the Kolkata Port Trust, Dr A K Chanda, said the trust has been trying to appoint highly qualified doctors. “We have offered very attractive compensation packages. But the doctors do not want to move out of the bigger cities,” Chanda said.

No immediate decision about providing employment to the kin of the deceased could be taken either, he said, as the issue of providing appointment on compassionate grounds was pending before the Supreme Court.

“However, the victim’s family would get the compensation as per labour welfare laws,” Chanda added.