Sri Lankan ports are hugely overstaffed after successive governments stuffed them with supporters in order to win votes under the system of patronage politics practiced in the island.
Ports customers also complain productivity at the island's ports are not as good as that in competing ports.
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Dockers are also highly unionised with most unions affiliated to political parties.
He urged dock workers to set aside political and other differences and work to make ports profitable, saying they too would ultimately benefit.
"Only if the ports become profitable can you protect your livelihoods," Wickrema told workers in the southern harbour of Galle Thursday when he inaugurated work on building a yacht marina which would promote the harbour as a tourist port.
"What is required is a change in attitude," he said. "If this can be done then we're confident of being able to turn