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i-maritime news letter

Kochi port to offer voluntary retirement scheme - 2011-12-26


Kochi Port, which is facing a serious financial crisis, proposes to offer a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to its employees. The scheme has been sent to the Shipping Ministry for its approval, it is learnt. This is the first VRS by the Kochi Port after 1998. According to information available, employees who have completed ten years of service and a minimum three years of remaining service are eligible to apply for scheme. The ex-gratia payment under the VRS will be the lower of the following: Forty-five days of salary for every completed year of service or emoluments for the remaining period of service. The employees opting for the scheme will be eligible for pension and other retirement benefits. The port management expects at least 500 out of the 3,100 employees to opt for the scheme, which would result in an annual saving of Rs 12 crore to the loss-making port. The port is expected to report a loss of more than Rs 260 crore in the current fiscal as against Rs 86 crore last year. A major portion of the loss is on account of the cost of dredging at the new Vallarpdam terminal to achieve a draught of 14.5 meters, a port official said. The port is understood to be seeking Rs 100 crore from the Government to meet the VRS outgo.
The port management has also put in place a set of austerity measures. These include a two-year freeze on overtime, leave travel allowance, festival advance, home and vehicle loans and certain other incentives. There will be a restriction on the use of hired vehicles by the employees. Meanwhile, trade unions at the port are planning a joint agitation to protest the freeze on the employee benefits. The unions will be meeting on December 26 to finalise their plan. Mr Mohammed Haneef, President, Cochin Port Staff Association, suggested that the port management should take initiative to recover dues, running into crores of rupees from different companies including BPCL-Kochi Refinery and Petronet LNG Ltd. Mr C.D. Nandakumar, General Secretary, CPEO, demanded that the Government should extend budgetary support to acquire a dredger for the port in order to escape from the huge recurring annual expenditure. The Cochin Port Employees Organisation pointed out that the dredging continues to be a major recurring expenditure as the port continue to depend on private agencies for dredging operations. Against the average annual expenditure of Rs 40-45crore prior to the commissioning of Vallarpadam, it went up to Rs 165 crore during 2011-12.

Source: Hindu Business Line