THIS is with reference to the opinion piece ‘MNCs and ports’ (July 3). Hutchison Ports Pakistan regret that the company’s viewpoint on the matter was not sought whereas the article refers to what I believe to be misinformation provided by a union leader.
A cursory visit by the writer at our facilities would have served to remove her misperceptions not only about the labour issue, but also about the alleged “faulty equipment” which, according to her, caused the loss of a precious life. Such an accident never happened in the terminal.
Hutchison Ports Pakistan operates the only deep water, hi-tech port in Pakistan with all new equipment, and is unique here, and possibly even in the region, with advanced cabin-less, remote-controlled quay cranes, and rubber-tired gantry cranes.
Hutchison Ports Pakistan’s remuneration packages are in line with and in some cases even above the industry norms. It always issues employment letters to all employees. It is registered with all social protection coverages (EOBI, SESSI) and provides family medical coverage, group insurances and retirement benefits.
We are equal opportunity employers and recently broke traditional stereotypes by training two female crane operators.
As for the labour issue, we would like to clarify that on March 6 last a small group of workers, accompanied by many outsiders, went on an illegal strike during actual operations, stopped the majority of workers from carrying out their jobs by harassing and intimidating them, switched off the quay cranes and disabled yard cranes by removing and disposing of vital electronic component.
Witness accounts were provided to the local courts regarding the theft resulting in the incarceration of the responsible individuals. Any dismissal of any members of staff is always undertaken in accordance with proper legal procedures and internal policies.
We are not just a sea port, we are a terminal operating company. Modern TOCs operate free zones, operate freight train and inland container depots. Hutchison Ports Pakistan is constructing three rail sidings in Phase 2 for inland container movements.
Our workers do have a union, the South Asia Pakistan Terminal Employees Union, registered by the National Industrial Relations Commission Islamabad.
The question of which union is relevant is sub judice and we will act as per judgement.
While respecting the writer’s concern for labour in general, we expect writers to research and adopt a balanced approach.
Manager Corporate Affairs
Hutchison Ports Pakistan
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2019