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Strike hits cargo movement from Vallarpadam

Union alleges victimisation of drivers by transport authorities

The indefinite strike by a section of container lorry drivers and crew, which entered the third day on Wednesday, has affected the movement of goods to and from the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal. The strike was called by Container Thozhilali Sangham, protesting against what its leaders alleged as victimisation of drivers for overloaded lorries.

Sangh district secretary K.V. Madhukumar said the licences of five drivers had been suspended, as they were found driving overloaded lorries. Notices have been served on 15 more drivers. “If the drivers lose their licences, their livelihood will be in peril,” said the trade union leader.

“The local transport authorities have been checking overloaded vehicles and taking drivers to task,” Mr. Madhukumar alleged. A spokesman for other unions said though the strike was called by only one union, the movement of cargo as a whole had been hit.

Mr. Madhukumar said the port authority or the container terminal operator should monitor the weight of goods carried by container lorries. “Drivers and crew have nothing to do with overloaded lorries, and they cannot be held responsible for something over which they have no control,” Mr. Madhukumar added.

According to him, though the district authorities and the container terminal operator have been issued notices on troubles faced by lorry drivers, no action has been initiated as yet.

Meanwhile, the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rajesh Agarwal said the strike had caused huge revenue loss for businesses as well as the port. He added that it was understandable that the weight issue had caused tension among drivers, as they are being penalised for carrying more than the permitted weight.

“However, the issues are mainly caused by coastal cargo movements and not the shipping sector. It is unfortunate that the shipping sector has to suffer, as the damage caused is many times higher than what it does to local cargo movement,” he added.
Source: The Hindu

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