Chinese Connection

August 16, 2007 (LBO) – Colombo port has sent dock worker union leaders to study practices in a modern Chinese port and has now won their support for better work norms, a top official said. Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) chairman Saliya Wickramasuriya said relations between port management and workers was now better than last year when a nine-day labour go-slow in July caused losses to the port as well as its customers.

“We have now developed better relations inside the port between management and trade unions,” he told a recent shipping conference.

“We are now educating trade union leaders on modern port practices and operations. We recently sent a team to see a modern port in China to acquaint themselves about its operations and compare their ideas with practical reality.”

When the labour union leaders and workers returned, they themselves suggested improvements in port productivity, Wickramasuriya said.

The hugely overstaffed port authority has had difficulty in the past in convincing dock workers of the need to improve efficiency, turn cargo ships around faster and increase the flow of containers through the port.

Colombo is south Asia’s to transshipment hub.