Mumbai Port, the country’s biggest government-owned one, will see its staff strength halve by 2021, as a large number of employees are due for retirement. With no plan for hiring to replace the retirees, it is expecting stronger operating profit in the coming years.
As on March 31, 2016, staff strength was 10,364. Of the total operating expenses, salary and wages were about 70 per cent. With 4,700 employees retiring over the next five years, this expense outgo is expected to drop significantly, in turn, leading to expansion of margins.
Port employees are divided under four categories — Class I to IV — with port officers getting an average salary of ~70,000 per month. “We haven’t made any fresh hirings since the 1990s and there are no plans to hire upon these retirements. We have automated our processes already and so the requirement of manpower has dropped,” said Deputy Chairman Yashodhan A Wanage, adding, “The balance (5,600 employees) is an optimal size for us.”
After retirement, the 4,700 employees will come under the port’s pension kitty, which would be an average of ~20,000 per month per person. The pension corpus of Mumbai Port Trust forms around 42 per cent of its revenue account expenditure. Meanwhile, the port is chalking out major plans to make itself more competitive on the west coast, as lower operating expense outgo in the coming years would give it the necessary financial room.
“With the saved expenses (from wages), the port plans to outsource several activities, which will lower logistics cost and improve cost to trade, making Mumbai Port more competitive,” said Wanage. The current cost per tonne at ~165 is three times that of its peer on the same coast, Kandla.
“Our handling expenses will come down by half upon outsourcing, cheaper than having a dedicated staff. The port will also save on overtime cost, which is quite high,” informed Wanage, without giving details. According to the ministry of shipping’s latest data, the total cargo handled by major ports during April-May rose 6.3 per cent, against 5.7 percent rise in the same period last year. Kandla led the major ports’ segment, with a share of 16.2 per cent, followed by Paradip at 14 per cent. Mumbai Port had just about 10 per cent of the 108 million tonnes of cargo handled.
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