Call of Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Joint General Secretary, MCDLW, Varanasi
Important points of the speech delivered by Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Joint General Secretary, Men’s Congress Diesel Loco Works (MCDLW), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh at the monthly meeting of the All India Forum Against Privatisation (AIFAP) on 3 October 2021
The government is planning to hand over wealth of almost all public sector and government enterprises, created over the last many decades with the sweat and labour of workers and the wealth of Indian people. He explained how the government is planning to hand over 400 stations, 90 railway trains and about 1400 km railway track, 15 stadiums and many railway colonies to private companies. Workers never want to unnecessarily launch agitations, but if their very existence is threatened then they are not left with any other choice but to fight back.
He expressed happiness that the NCCRS has been formed by the leadership of most of the workers’ organisations of the Indian Railways and called upon employees of all public sectors to build similar organisations, wherever not already done. He very forcefully emphasised that there is an urgent need to form joint action committees at the ground level so that the NCCRS can effectively work. He called upon all railway employees to actively join in such an effort, keeping aside their political affiliations so that a strong wall of unity can be formed. He pointed out that such a desire for united actions is being expressed by workers at the ground level, too, which is an excellent sign.
During September railway employees organised many protest actions against the government’s privatisation plans but under different banners. The impact of those actions would have been much more if they were carried out under one unified banner of Joint Action Committees. He requested leaders of various unions and federations, who are a part of the NCCRS, to motivate their members in this direction.
Another important aspect is involving the consumers, he said. As employees we need to oppose the privatisation of railways and as consumers of electricity we must oppose the privatisation of electricity, and vice versa. He felt that there is an urgent need to go amongst common people explaining to them the extremely harmful effects of the privatisation of all public sector enterprises. Unless people as consumers also oppose privatisation, it will be difficult to stop it.
He shared his personal positive experience when in the month of September, he along with his colleagues took the campaign against privatisation amongst the people of Varanasi, as a part of Jan Samvad yatras. They approached working people and traders by visiting and talking to them in markets of Varanasi. They explained by giving many examples from their day-to-day life how as consumers people will lose a lot if the Indian Railways are privatised. Their daily commute will become extremely expensive, their children who are currently benefitting by taking good education in railway schools will lose that benefit, many trains used by them for visiting small villages will be shut down, etc. As compared to 3-4 years ago, this time they found that people responded very positively to their campaign. Working people are already facing lot of hardship due to rising prices of daily necessities and due to rising unemployment. People now understand that their hardships are the result of the policies of the current government. Hence, they easily understood the likely adverse impact of railway privatisation when railway workers explained to them.
He called upon all the public sector employees to approach working people who are their consumers in big campaigns and enlist their support. “If we are able to mobilise public opinion with us, then I have no doubt that we will be able to force the GOI to stop the privatisation program since the government may be able to withstand pressure of only workers but cannot withstand pressure of people as a whole,” he said. He concluded with the confidence that we will fight and we shall win!