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From 50 Years Ago: Labour Victory on the Waterfront

Vol II, No 36 september 9, 1967

Labour Victory on the Waterfront

Port and dock workers, numbering about two lakhs, have greeted the settlement announced last month as a great victory. This it is, and all the more impressive because the Government at first appeared to take a tough stand and then buckled under to accept most of the demands. …

Under the agreement, port and dock workers’ earnings have been redefined, for the purpose of calculating provident fund and gratuity, to include basic wage, dearness allowance, city compensatory allowance and piece rate earnings. Only house rent allowance and overtime earnings are excluded. This is the first time that the principle of paying gratuity on the basis of 100 per cent dearness allowance and piece rate wage has been accepted. According to the President of the Bombay Port Trust Employees’ Union, an affiliate of the Federation, “No company, either in the private or public sector, makes computation in this manner. The quantum of retirement benefits payable to workers on time rate will be doubled and on piece rate trebled”. …

Even after making these substantial concessions, the Transport and Labour Ministers were unable to get any assurance of a long-term truce on the waterfront from the Workers’ Federation. Dock strikes have been frequent recently. In Bombay alone, there have been about 25 strikes during the first seven months of the current year, resulting in a loss of about 50,000 man-hours.

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