News Item .. Sri Lanka Dockyard incurs a massive loss of Rs 77 Mn – Sad state of a company once flourished.
Posted on June 4th, 2016

Concerned Ex Dockyard Worker

If you could  remember the day on which when the new  CEO walked into this company premises in 1994, which was under Japanese Management, discipline was absolutely at a low ebb and company burdened with heavy debts, workers not performing to their fullest capacity, trade unions playing hell, company continuing business without a proper lease agreement with Sri Lanka Ports Authority and worst of all  the workers were not rewarded with 10% of the shares as agreed upon  during the privatization of the company, where 51% shares were takeover by the Japanese Company for a chicken  fee .

Though the workforce was highly skilled but the government owned GOBU was full of cronies of the state and there were no hopes for revival.

A Union leader sacked by the previous CEO for good reasons was stirring trouble insidiously from outside.

It took three years for the management to get back on to feet, discipline was revived safety and Quality Assurance were brought back to international level and the company started making news in the shipping fraternity.

To make matters worse, three Japanese who were supposed to teach our workers in new technology hardly contributed to the efficiency of operations but occupied luxury offices and played golf. Then CEO  had to send them to offices inside the 15 acre yard and requested them to work with the local engineers to improve efficiency and set standards and norms on par with the Japanese industry and international level.

Over 1,200 workforce was getting lunch from the kitchen of Sri Lanka Ports Authority which was a very convenient arrangement, but the previous management decided to start their own kitchen, which has become a unbearable burden for the company overheads.

Workers are given a big breakfast almost free, a two rupee lunch packet and afternoon tea with a bun, which is luxury for a shipyard .Despite all these additional unwarranted expenditure, the company did well building boats for the Navy, Republic of Maldives etc.  Indian Shipping Corporation was giving a lot of business in repair and company moved forward until the trade unions wanted the kill the chicken who laid golden eggs.

They started asking more and more and walked out from work, and started creating problems.

Then the former CEO had to leave for greener pastures and the new management took over the reins in 2001.

Now the sad story begins.

With the appointment of an immature and inexperienced CEO, the trade union leaders have pushed the management to give more and more perks and the notorious leaders were given a labour supply contract to the yard ,who started controlling the company at ransom . This new CEO thought that keeping the trade unions in his good books by giving unconscionable demands was the best way of managing the company. The ultimate result witnessed during the next one and decades was absolutely pathetic. The well experienced and senior engineers were terminated on the mere attainment of 55 years on the premise that their extensions of service beyond 55 years would be an imminent threat to his survival. Senior Engineers who were the live wire of the Company had to leave the Company in batches even before their retirement age unable to bear the harassment of this CEO and the trade union leaders. The physical assault on the engineers whilst on the duty by the trade union leader was blatantly ignored and it came to a situation where the trade union was virtually running the dockyard. Automatically, the front line supervisory arm became visibly weak as they were unable to execute their supervisory role in fear of the retaliation at the hands of the trade union who had the blessings of the inefficient CEO.

Kitchen which was providing food parcels Bath Packets was cooking meals for buffet lunch-locations scattered over the yard .Operation of a  Bakery and a shop has also started .Workers and foremen with engineers were having one buffet lunch station and workers were served with chicken  and sometimes breakfast with crabs and prawns.

(Sad to watch how the 400 Indian labour force doing yeoman service to the company working in Dockyard is being treated, When the permanent staff enjoys a chicken and rice lunch in a Buffet laid feast, Indians consume their lunch sitting on side step of the docks and eating chapatti and dahl and some of them even sleeping along pier .With all these exploitation company is sliding down)

Once a year they were all sent to Singapore or Thailand for a safari on company expenses. These junkets were rusely arranged by the CEO in connivance with the Japanese so that they could conveniently siphon every penny out of the country.

This CEO thought that he could conveniently manage the company as long as the executives and the employees were looked after disregarding the commercial viability of the Company and therefore the salaries of the workforce  were trebled exceedingly the industrial average. Today the Company has realized that it can ill afford the current wage bill in the face of the heavy losses.

Luckily, management managed to get few New Ship Building Contracts for Indian and Singaporean clients with very unattractive financing packages. Initially, the agreement was to obtain a mobilization advance of 20% of the contract sum and the balance 80 % were to be paid  at the completion of the building of the boats. Of course, the cash flow was good for a few years and the Japanese took their 51% in a hurry by declaring  high artificial profits. They have taken back their investment over ten fold of the initial contribution.

Most of the naval architectural work (design of ships) which were done in- house were given to outside companies and this ill-conceived and ill-logical decision paved the way to the brain drain of our cream of designers either to leave the company or to retire at the age of 55. Insiders say the CEO became the financial beneficiary of all these dealings and this ill-gotten money he earned is alleged to have invested in condominiums and lucrative underhand deals in millions and millions.

Most of the equipment and accessories were bought thru a subsidiary of the Japanese owners and another 10-15 % of the revenue was pumped out of the country with the tacit support of the CEO.

For our naïve and misled business circles and the government, the company was the pinnacles of success.

Clients placed the order with Dockyard and carried our speculative market and once they find a buyer they paid the dues to the company .

Now the world is entering into a recession due sliding of oil prices. The clients were not being able find buyers for their ships. The existing buyers for whom ships were being built demanded a high discount which was very unfair and company had to cave in .Few orders have also been cancelled and the artificially generated profit level was exposed as a   farce. The CEO having realized that the results of his misdeeds have begun to expose by way of mismanagement and financial losses and questionable financial packages offered to buyers of new ships) tendered his resignation and joined a leading trade chamber as a CEO (and now to lead the Center for Strategic  Development under the Minister of Strategic Development). .

We see news today that Dockyard is making unprecedented losses and it will not a surprise if Japanese bolt away, leaving the 2000 strong force and 400 Indians working in the yard in a lurch.


Concerned Ex Dockyard Worker

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