Wednesday, 11 June 2008, saw employees of Customs House Agents (CHAs), go on a flash strike, at the two cargo terminal buildings (CTBs) at Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL). The CTBs at BIAL are operated by Air India – Singapore Airport Terminal Services (AI-SATS) and Menzies Aviation Bobba Group.
The AI-SATS warehouse was forced to open on May 24, 2008, along with BIAL, in a completely unprepared state.
As a compromise, since opening, AI-SATS allowed staff of the CHAs, access to the restricted areas of the complex, to help with the cargo. In a show of fair business practices, AI-SATS refrained, from charging demurrage and vehicle parking fees, as a compensation for all the delays.
Menzies was operational from opening date, and did not offer these concessions.
Over the last 18 days they have been putting herculean efforts and have brought the situation to a level of semblance.
Today, AI-SATS have rightfully imposed the warehouse entrance restrictions, and will start charging, demurrage for cargo left uncleared after 5 days, for cargo landing from 9-June onwards, and vehicle parking fees.
At the same time, the working conditions for the CHA staff are still quite poor. They have been facing problems of food availability. The remoteness of BIAL, just magnifies this relatively minor problem, in to a major frustration.
The AI-SATS restrictions, coupled with the frustrations, blew the lid off the situation, and CHA staff resorted to a flash strike, stopping all work at both AI-SATS and Menzies warehouses.
While I fully support the AI-SATS move and condemn the strike action, some of the working conditions complaints are legitimate. The managements of AI-SATS, Menzies, and BIAL need to take a hard look and arrive at some quick solutions.
I have repeatedly voiced concerns about the working conditions at BIAL. “If we do not look after those who look after us, it is just a matter of time”…………. today, was just a small example.
Industry has suffered delays to about Rs. 100 Crore worth of cargo today, and Bangalore’s economy can ill afford it.