People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 02, 2006
Growing Struggle Against Disinvestment Move
EIGHT major central trade unions – CITU, AICCTU, AITUC, BMS, HMS, UTUC, UTUC (LS) and TUCC – have jointly appealed to the entire trade union movement as well as the patriotic democratic people all over the country irrespective of affiliations to raise their powerful voice against the suicidal decision of the government to disinvest its equity in Nalco, Neyvelli Lignite Corporation and NMDC. It sought their support in the fight against this decision of the government.
In a joint statement issued on June 26, 2006, the central trade unions urged upon the UPA government to stop the retrograde move of swindling out the national assets forthwith and for good. They further warned the government that should it ignore the widespread popular opposition to the disinvestments move, they would further intensify their struggle and compel it to reverse its decision.
The trade unions announced the following programme chalked out to stall disinvestments in NALCO, NLC and NMDC:
Statewide general strike in Orissa against Nalco disinvestment on June 30
NLC employees to launch an indefinite strike from July 4
NMDC employees' protests through token strike on July 7 and an indefinite strike from August 4
Solidarity programmes all over the country by all trade unions, including dharna, demonstration, gate meetings, corner meetings etc.
A central joint demonstration shall be organised at Delhi on July 5, 2006. The trade unions have further appealed to all to send telegrams to the prime minister of India demanding "STOP DISINVESTMENT OF EQUITY OF NALCO, NMDC & NLC".
The statement of the central trade unions noted that all the three PSUs have been earning profit and their disinvestment would hurt the self-reliant sovereign economy of the country. "Disinvestment of equity in profit-making PSUs is an act of political bankruptcy and bereft of any sound economic logic", they asserted.
While the Nalco employees at Angul and Damanjodi have already observed a day's token strike on June 23 and 24 respectively, the employees of Nalco's corporate office at Bhubaneswar would strike work on June 26 against the decision of the UPA government.
True to their exemplary role in defeating the previous moves by the NDA government to privatise NALCO, the working class of Orissa this time too have come out to join shoulder to shoulder in the fight of the Nalco employees. A state-level convention held in Bhubaneswar on June 25, 2006 saw representatives of AICCTU, AITUC BMS, CITU, HMS, INTUC, UTUC (LS) and the Industrial Federations of Banks, Insurance, Railways attending and deciding to observe a state wide general strike on June 30, 2006.
Meanwhile, the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) employees in Tamilnadu have unitedly taken a bold decision to launch an indefinite strike from July 4, 2006 to defeat the deceitful decision of the UPA government to disinvest the equity of the central public sector undertaking. The unions that participated in taking this strike decision were LPF, CITU, LLF, PTS, ATP, AITUC, BMS, AICCTU, INTUC, MLF, NTU, UTUC (LS) and NLC Operators Union.
Similarly, workers and employees of NMDC have unitedly chalked out their struggle programme. The All India NMDC Workers Federation, which includes INTUC and BMS unions also, while deprecating the move of the government to disinvest 15 per cent of its equity in NMDC, have decided to observe a token strike on July 7, 2006 and an indefinite strike from August 4, 2006.
CITU CONGRATULATES NALCO EMPLOYEES
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) congratulated NALCO employees, including officers, for their spontaneous strike on June 23, 2006 in response to government’s decision to disinvest 10 per cent equity. The CITU recalled NALCO employees’ heroic united struggle to thwart NDA government’s decision to “privatise” NALCO and committed itself fully to their united struggle to resist creeping privatisation through back door by UPA government. "NALCO employees have set an example to their PSU brethren all over the country to protect PSUs, which inspite of having investible reserves and surplus of more than Rs 2,50,000 crore are being forced to shed their equity for the so-called investment fund", stated CITU general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar in a statement issued on June 23, 2006. The CITU also congratulated the workers of NLC for staging demonstration against disinvestment.
The CITU called upon the UPA government to retract from the path of crony capitalism and warned it of further intensified struggle against its attempts to renew NDA’s policy of disinvestment.
WIDESPREAD OPPOSITION IN ORISSA
The UPA government's decision to disinvest 10 per cent of its equity in NALCO has evoked across the board opposition in Orissa so much so that even the Pradesh Congress chief came out openly against the central government's decision.
Immediately after the decision of the union cabinet was made public, trade unions, political parties and personalities came out against the decision. The chief minister Naveen Patnaik has already written to the centre to stop this disinvestment move, fearing serious discontentment among people of the state. The BJP, which had supported Nalco privatisation move of the previous NDA government, has now come out in opposition. The CPI(M), CPI, SUCI, CPI(ML), Orissa Ganaparisad, JD(S) and BJD have issued statements against this disinvestment move. The BJD-BJP have submitted a memorandum to the governor after holding a demonstration. The CPI(M) and CPI have also jointly organised demonstration at Bhubaneswar. The INTUC has also opposed the move.
The UPA government's assurances that the Rs 1472 crore it proposes to collect through this disinvestment would be utilised for modernising and expansion of Nalco is not cutting ice with the people. Many point out that Nalco does not need disinvestment to raise money for its modernisation since it has huge reserve fund. In fact, Rs 4000 crore is being spent now for expansion of Nalco from this reserve fund. In the last financial year Nalco has earned a profit of Rs 1565 crore. Hence the reasons stated by the government for embarking on this disinvestment does not hold good.
The protest action of Nalco workers is gaining momentum by the day. The workers at Angul in both the plants of Smeltor and Power Project have gone on a one day strike at the joint call of all the unions. Similarly all the unions at Damanjodi, Koraput have also struck work for a day in protest against the disinvestment. The Mines and Mineral plant of Nalco also witnessed a day long strike. Protect actions are being organised at the corporate office at Bhubneswar.
Representatives of INTUC, AITUC, CITU, HMS, BMS, AICCTU, UTUC(LS) met at the CITU office to chackout further course of action. The BJP-BJD combine is also eager to be in the forefront of this movement in view of emotional attachment of Orissa people for Nalco and the experiences of the previous movement against Nalco privatisation. They also feel it would come in handy for them to divert the attention of the people from their misdeeds. (INN)