Privatisation against national interest: RSS-backed union

The government was going in the “wrong direction” and it was “highly condemnable” that it did not discuss the proposed changes with trade unions and other stakeholders, says BMS, trade union arm of the RSS. 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s plan to increase privatisation in coal, defence manufacturing and six other sectors is against the “national interest”, said the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on Saturday. 

“Corporatisation and PPP (public private partnership) are the routes for privatisation, and privatisation is the route for foreignisation,” said the BMS, which has opposed changes in labour laws announced by some state governments. 

The organisation said the privatisation decision was “a sad day for the nation and its people” and it was taken at a time when the country is batting the coronavirus outbreak. 

The government was going in the “wrong direction” and it was “highly condemnable” that it did not discuss the proposed changes with trade unions and other stakeholders. 

The BMS said the government’s plea that it has no option but to privatise sectors like coal, airspace, defence production and others shows a “dearth of ideas on economic revival in times of crisis”. 

BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said the impact of these changes would affect employees. “For employees, privatisation means massive job loss, below quality jobs will be generated, profiteering and exploitation will be the rules in the sector,” he said. 

Upadhyay accused the government of not engaging in any social dialogue before deciding to bring such big changes, and that it was “going in the wrong direction”. 

“Social dialogue is fundamental to democracy. The government becoming shy of consultation and dialogue with trade unions, social representatives and stakeholders shows lack of confidence in their own ideas and is highly condemnable,” Upadhyay said. 

The BMS, and its sectoral unions, were against corporatisation and privatisation. “For our policy makers, structural reforms and competition means privatisation. But we have recently experienced, in time of crisis private players and market were paralysed and public sector played the crucial role,” he said. 

The BMS has objected to coal sector privatisation, and termed seamless mining, auctioning 500 mining blocks, including bauxite and coal blocks, rationalising stamp duty for that purpose as “against national interest”. 

It also objected to raising the foreign direct investment (FDI) limited in the defence sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, privatisation of power distribution companies and auctioning of six airports. 

BMS, which claims to be the largest of the dozen central trade unions, said privatisation in the space sector “will have serious consequences” to India’s security. 

“We depend on space for many security and surveillance measures which are dangerous to be privatised. Indian start-ups are not so much equipped to take up space challenges. Even atomic energy is being converted to PPP (public private partnership) mode which is a major step towards privatisation.” 

Upadhyay said after these announcements the government machinery, particularly the finance ministry, will involve itself in working out privatisation and communicating with corporates and will not find time to give attention to social sectors, like labour, agriculture and MSMEs for which the FM has allotted attention for the last three days. 

“Hence, the BMS strongly objects the announcements on the corporatisation and privatisation in eight sectors taking advantage of the crisis,” he said.

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