People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 26, 2004


 TUs Caution On BALCO Sale


On September 16, the CITU, AITUC, BMS and HMS wrote the following joint letter to the prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, regarding sale of residual equity of the government in Bharat Aluminium Corporation (BALCO) to M/s Sterlite.

WE request your urgent intervention not to allow the sale of residual equity of the government in BALCO to M/s Sterlite. We also like to impress upon you that the BALCO does not mean merely the plant but also the control of huge reserves of natural resources under its captive command, and it would not be advisable in the national interest to transfer the absolute control of the same to private hands. In fact the whole issue of BALCO sell-off is crucial and deserves a serious re-look into all its aspects.


It is learnt that the shareholders agreement between the government and Sterlite on BALCO contains provision for the sale of residual government equity to the strategic partner. But you will appreciate that the obligations under the “shareholders agreement” cannot be a one sided affair, particularly when the M/s Sterlite have made gross violation of the said agreement on many counts, including labour related matters. The situation has so arisen that the government should seriously review the whole deal and take appropriate corrective measures, before taking any decision to further reduce its equity in BALCO.


Kindly note that there have been several complaints on flagrant violations of the shareholders agreement by the Sterlite in BALCO on labour related matters from all the unions, irrespective of affiliation. Those complaints were substantiated by numerous instances of irregular actions by the Sterlite in the man-material management in BALCO, as detailed in several memorandums addressed to the prime minister and other authorities by the joint platform of BALCO unions. The central trade unions also, on various occasions during the post-privatisation period, have drawn the attention of the government in various forum regarding gross violation of the shareholders agreement by Sterlite in BALCO, particularly on labour related issues, requesting urgent remedial action. The situation has not yet changed in the least.


In view of the above, we request you to please personally intervene in the matter to kindly see that the complaints on irregularities and violation of agreement by Sterlite in BALCO are thoroughly enquired by an appropriate agency/forum and the move to offload the residual government equity in BALCO to Sterlite is stalled forthwith in the interest of all concerned. (INN)