Transport & Dockworkers' Union, Kandla
F-3, Adinath Arcade 1, Plot No. 583, Ward 12-C Gandhidham, Gujurat State
22 July 2020
Dear Brother Latikuti,
It was with great sadness and shock that we were informed our Brother Manohar Bellani, General Secretary of Transport & Dock Workers Union (TDWU), Kandla and All India Port & Dock Workers Federation passed away on 20th July 2020 due to COVID 19 complications. Our condolences and sympathies to his wife, mother and two daughters. At 65, he was taken far too early.
A dedicated trade unionist and a fully trained civil engineer, he worked in Kandla port for 37 years. Those who knew him will not be surprised to hear that even on his first day at work he was active in a strike. It was of course the legendary Dockers leader brother Manohar Kotwal who developed the young Bellani and gave him the skills and experience to later become the General Secretary of the Union at the age of 33 years. A fiery and principled leader in Kandla port, Bellani brought together various groups of workers and led many a struggle that won rights and benefits for port employees and dockworkers. He was responsible for organising contract and casual workers, many of them women who will always remember Bellani for helping them secure dignity and decent work conditions. When the global network operators came to Kandla port, Bellani organised the workers and fought relentlessly to ensure they were paid negotiated wage and work conditions. He was on the Board of Trustees of Kandla port as the labour representative from 1998 to 2020 until his death.
Bellani always supported the International Dockers movement, something he learnt and inherited from his mentor brother Kotwal. In the early days of the FOC campaign in India, Bellani volunteered to be an FOC contact for his port in spite of his vast responsibilities as the union General Secretary. If there were crew issues on a vessel that berthed at Kandla port, you could be sure that the vessel would not sail out until the crew issues got resolved favourable for the workers.
He assisted and worked closely with activists of the union so they could learn and take over responsibilities for the FOC Campaign. The ITF gave an Inspectors position to the Union. Brother Bellani steered the idea of setting up a Seafarers Welfare Centre in Kandla port. He got the port management to support his idea and the centre is still one of the best run in the country and is self-sustaining through the seafarers welfare levy charged from each ship visiting the port. Bellani actively participated in all ITF programmes and conferences.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin commented, “It was with great sorrow I learnt of the death of our brother and comrade Manohar Bellani, a man whose lifetime work was dedicated to improving the lives of Seafarers and Dockers at his port. He was an Internationalist and true friend of the ITF. He made a difference. He will not be forgotten. His achievements will stand the test of time. My sincere condolences go to his family and loved ones.”
Manohar Bellani has left a void, which will be difficult to fill. Comrades at the Transport & Dock Workers Union, Kandla and All India Port & Dock Workers Federation have an enormous challenge in carrying forward his legacy.
Although as Stephen Cotton, the ITF General Secretary said, “The work done by brother Bellani will stand future generations in good stead for the challenges ahead. As well as being principled, he was talented, hardworking and an inspiration for those who worked with him. As General Secretary and on behalf of the ITF globally we all offer our deep respect and sympathies at this sad time. Continuing his work, protecting, and promoting the lives, rights and futures of Dockers in India is exactly the legacy he would have wanted.”
Our deepest condolences and respect.
Paddy Crumlin, ITF President
Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary