Monetisation, IPO, etc. or whatever the name, is the sale of national assets. We have to fight against this sale. Railway, steel, coal or whatever, we have to fight together and unite on the common issue of sale of assets to corporates and multinationals, and demand the withdrawal of labour codes, as well as the electricity bill.
Summary of the Speech by Ch. Narsinga Rao, Chairman, Vishakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee (Vishakha Steel Plant Protection Struggle Committee),RINL, Vishakhapatnam at the All India Meeting organised by AIFAP on 21 November 2021 on “Mobilise Consumers/Users and Other People to Participate in the Movement Against Privatisation”
It is very good that AIFAP is bringing out the booklet explaining how privatisation of different public sector enterprises is harmful to the consumers. I congratulate the peasants’ struggle which is an inspiration to all people struggling against the central government’s policies. We are also proud that our union is the first union who sent the first check of Rs. 3 lakh to Kisan Morcha. We also invited their leaders to the Vizag steel plant (VSP) and held a joint public meeting on 18th April 2021.
Monetisation, IPO, etc. or whatever the name, is the sale of national assets. We have to fight against this sale. Railway, steel, coal or whatever, we have to fight together and unite on the common issue of sale of assets to corporates and multinationals, and demand the withdrawal of labour codes, as well as the electricity bill. Whatever industry it is, everyone has a common issue. We have to fight together, otherwise there is no meaning. During COVID, GDP was in negative numbers but Adani made huge profits. This is only because the government is helping them. Today banks are being looted to support corporates. The LIC IPO of Rs. 5 lakh crore has been announced, but LIC assets are worth Rs. 32 lakh crore. We can only save the public sector by uniting. We should learn this lesson from the peasants’ struggle. If we fight, we will win. All trade unions should come together and fight. Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition among trade unions. We should keep these weaknesses aside and unite for the bigger struggle.
I will share the important points about our achievements at Vizag steel plant where we have been fighting for the last one year. The CITU union is the main union, but we called all unions together in the name of the Struggle Committee. We united ourselves first and we made one single flag with a single agenda to unite all workers. Then we invited political parties of the state. We met the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister passed a resolution in the State Assembly in our support against privatisation. All political parties made a queue to support us. Only Jana Sena party did not support us initially, but now they have announced their support.
We met the Finance Minister on 2nd August 2021. We explained our stand. She listened for half an hour. We asked her, how can you sell the assets of Vizag Steel Plant for Rs. 22,000 crores when they are worth Rs. 3 lakh crores? Why have you not given mines to Vizag Steel Plant?
RINL is the only plant without captive mines. Even private plants have mines. Our plant is the newest plant, started in 1991, at the time of neoliberal policies. They kept trying to privatise us but we opposed every time. We also fought the Vajpayee government in 2002. Vizag Steel Plant has grown and made profits now. Steel production increased from 11 lakh metric tonnes to more than 30 lakh metric tonnes without any help from the central government. Earlier, the government did not even give us loans. The policy of the government is to privatise the entire public sector. We should create an impression and rouse the employees to fight against this outright sale of national assets. We took this to the employees. On 18th February 2021, we called all political parties to the plant. All trade unions have supported us. Political parties are following us now. When we gave the call for a human chain, 10,000 people participated. By 1st Nov, 2021 32 people had sacrificed their lives.
We are depending on the public and not on political parties. Each district is holding conventions. We are inviting all mass organisations in all districts. We are doing a campaign to collect 1 crore signatures.
Railway is the cheapest mode of transport and the best. Why are we not able to protect the railways? They will increase the fares and it will be taken out of reach of common people. If power bill will be Rs. 20 per unit for the common man, how can he survive? How can common people bear this burden? We should go to the common people. The working class has been fighting sector-wise for years together, but the ruling BJP will not wait for years. We have to unite and this is the right time.
Railways are the biggest sector. We should fight together. This is the only choice we have. Trade unions have announced a 2-day strike in February 2022. I request all members to join. I appreciate AIFAP’s efforts. Only a sustained and militant struggle can win!