A dispute over labour charges brought the Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee’s grain market to a standstill on Monday and for some hours on Tuesday. Labourers refused to load essential food grains into the 1,500 awaiting trucks. The bone of contention were the labour charges the labourers were demanding an increase in the payment given per bag loaded into the truck, but the Retail Transport Association refused to accede to the demands.
The retail transporters provide these food grains to retail outlets and general stores all over the city. Every year, labour charges are known to increase. Speaking to MiD DAY, Murlidhar Pawar, president of Retail Transport Association in Navi Mumbai, said, “This has been a system in the market for years now, wherein we pay the labourers a fixed amount for each bag loaded by them.
Generally, after Diwali, there is an increase in the number of bags that are loaded, as the quantity of essential food grains ordered by APMC traders from various parts of India is more. However the dispute, which started over the labour charges a day ago, stretched into the next day, as there was no settlement. However, we have now agreed to increase the rates, as they have promised they will not ask for an increment in the rate next year.”
Narendra Patil, leader of the labourers’ association in APMC said, “We didn’t stop loading. The retailers had stopped ordering from APMC traders. In such a case, there is little that we can do. All I can say is that there was some misunderstanding due to which the loading of food grains stopped for a while.”
Jayesh Vora, director of APMC grain market, said that an agreement had been made between the two parties wherein Rs 4 would be given for a 25-kg bag while Rs 7 would be given for a 50-kg bag. “Fortunately the loading stopped just for a day, due to which the end consumer did not feel the effect. Had the loading stopped today also, it would have immediately affected the price of food grains,” said Vora.
The decision to increase the rates was taken in a meeting in the afternoon yesterday, between the traders and labourers. Each of the 1,500 trucks carries approximately 10 tonnes of commodities like rice, wheat and sugar.