AIFAP Congratulates BLW, Varanasi Workers for victory in their struggle against allowing private corporates to enter BLW premises and manufacture 6,000 HP and 9,000 HP electric locomotives

 

Congratulatory Message by Dr. A Mathew, Convenor, All India Forum Against Privatisation (AIFAP)

 

On 27th of February, 2024, representatives of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW), Varanasi met the General Manager, BLW and conveyed to him the strong opposition of the workers against the ongoing construction work inside their premises for allowing multinational or Indian private corporates to manufacture 6000 HP and 9000 HP electric locomotives there. The General Manager informed them that the Railway Board has given written orders to drop the tender process for these locomotives.

This is a significant victory for the united action of the BLW, Varanasi workers and follows the announcement on 23rd January, 2024, that the private Indian company, Titagarh Rail Systems will not be allowed to manufacture Vande Bharat trains in ICF, Chennai.

In October, 2023, the Railway Board had issued a tender inviting expression of interest (EOI) from private corporates, multinational as well as Indian, for manufacture and maintenance of 6,000 HP and 9,000 HP electric locomotives using BLW infrastructure and manpower. The last date for receiving EOI’s was 15th of March 2024. BLW, Varanasi is already producing 400 numbers of 6,000 HP electric locomotives and CLW, Chittaranjan, West Bengal was already producing 450 numbers of 9,000 HP electric locomotives.

The workers of BLW united under their Joint Action Committee (JAC) and vehemently protested this move of the Railway Board. Seeing this, the Railway Board extended the last date for receiving EOI’s to 15 May 2024.

However, even before receiving the EOI and finalising the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the selected private corporate, the railway authorities started preparing the infrastructure inside BLW premises, for the private corporate to manufacture the electric locomotives. The foundation has already been laid and tracks have been installed.

The National Coordination Committee of Railwaymen’s Struggle (NCCRS), consisting of all railway unions, recognised and unrecognised, with Com. Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary of AIRF, as Convenor and Dr. M. Raghavaiah, General Secretary of NFIR, as Co- Convenor, issued a statement on 19 January 2024, strongly protesting the decision of the Railway Board to invite private corporates to manufacture electric locomotives in BLW, Varanasi or in any other railway production unit. It called upon the railway workers in railway production units to from Joint Action Committees and demonstrate against the attempt by Railway Board to invite private corporates to manufacture electric locomotives in BLW, Varanasi.

The All India Forum Against Privatisation (AIFAP) had organised a National Webinar on 17 December 2023 against privatisation of production of Vande Bharat at ICF Chennai. At this meeting, the privatisation of production of Electric Locomotives at BLW, Varanasi and Railway Workshop, Dahod, Rail Coach Factory and Kapurthala was also thoroughly discussed along with the privatisation of Vande Bharat production at ICF, Chennai. All the participants in the webinar vehemently opposed the Railway Board’s attempts to introduce private corporates into railway production units through the backdoor and decided to jointly step up the campaign against this.

On 20 February 2024, the People’s Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS) issued a strong letter addressed to the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Government of India, demanding an independent enquiry into the attempts of the Railway Board to hand over the railway production unit (including BLW, Varanasi) infrastructure, manpower and technical expertise to private corporates and the awarding of contracts to these private corporates at much higher prices than the current price of trains and locomotives manufactured by the railway production units themselves.

The result of all these actions was to make the Railway Board give written orders to drop the tender process for these locomotives at BLW, Varanasi.

This announcement by the Railway Board is a victory for the BLW, Varanasi rail workers, and of railway production unit workers elsewhere as well as of all those who have been supporting these just struggles. It once again shows that united actions by rail workers can halt the anti-worker, anti-people policy of allowing profit hungry private corporates to use railway production facilities for manufacturing purposes.

However, it is also possible that the tender process may be restarted by the Railway Board at a later date or after the Parliamentary General Elections. The workers of BLW have to be prepared to unitedly oppose any such anti-worker anti-people move by the Railway Board, whenever it occurs!

Dr. A. Mathew
Convenor,
All India Forum Against Privatisation (AIFAP)

 

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments