Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
From its founding one year ago on July 4, 2021, the leaders of its constituent federations, unions and people’s organisations have been highlighting the need to build a strong unity cutting across all barriers to oppose privatisation. We are happy to report that this call has caught the imagination of a number of leaders and activists in Pune. As reported on this website (https://aifap.org.in/5861/) unions from banks, electricity, railways and KEC had organised a very successful meeting on June 12 2022 in Patrakar Bhavan.
The latest initiative in the same spirit was a militant meeting against privatization jointly organized by the unions of LIC, MSEB, Bank and ST Workers under the auspices of Rashtriya Ekatmata Samiti program, on August 11 at Alka Chowk in Pune. The meeting started with slogans against the privatization agenda of the Indian Monopoly Capitalists – halla bol, hum sub ek hain, hamari union hamari takat and Kamgar Ekta Zindabad. During the two-hour long meeting, representatives of various organizations and Dr Baba Adhav, a well-known and very senior leader of workers movement and Chairman of the Rashtriya Ekatmata Committee, addressed the gathering.
Shri Nitin Pawar, Convener of the Rashtriya Ekatmata Committee welcomed the initiatives taken by different workers unions and organizations to come together and oppose the privatization agenda of the Indian state which has affected so many people in the country.
Com. Bhimashankar Pohekar, Deputy General Secretary of Maharashtra State Electricity Workers Federation presented the disastrous consequences of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 which has been introduced in the parliament. The private players will be using the power distribution infrastructure created with public money and will be maximizing their profits whereas many of our fellow citizens in India will be deprived of the access to electricity, a basic necessity for survival today because the tariffs will go up and they won’t be able to afford it. The cross-subsidy arrangement currently being followed so that electricity is made available at affordable prices to all in the country will not be there after privatization.
On behalf of the LIC Union, Shri Chandrakant Tewari presented the state of affairs in LIC, a giant institution which has been built over the years with public money and has now been forced on the path of privatization, despite militant opposition from all the workers. The recent IPO of LIC is the first step in the path to privatization of LIC. 50% of the IPO was reserved for Corporates who managed to bring down the stock price so that they can purchase more shares at throwaway price.
On behalf of the Pune District Bank Employees Association, Shri Mahesh Parkhi of Bank of Maharashtra, addressed the gathering and presented the consequences of the privatization of public sector banks. For example, in their bank, they are facing the shortage of staff because of no fresh hiring is being done. Over the years many services have been outsourced and therefore it affects the overall service being provided by the bank. On top of it, the banks are forced to start charging for all services and ordinary people are justifiably unhappy paying these charges because it is their money through which the bank earns its profits.
Dr Baba Adhav started his address with a reminder to all that the current agenda of privatization which is so aggressively being pursued by the current government was launched in 1991, by Dr Manmohan Singh, the then finance minister under the program of globalization through liberalization and privatization and this program and has been implemented by all the government ever since. It has created misery and pain for all in India. The propaganda being done in support of privatization completely obscures the consequences of privatization on the life and livelihood of the disadvantaged and deprived sections of our country – for example, hardworking people like rag pickers, housemaids, etc. who do not even have a regular job find it hard to make both ends meet. We must go to people and explain to them these important facts and how the privatization program is going to affect them adversely in days ahead. He concluded his address by reciting a revolutionary poem – Kranti jaree rahegi, Kranti Zindabad.
The meeting concluded with revolutionary slogans – Inquilab Zindabad, Ek par hamla, sab-par-hamla, hum sab ek hain, Kamgar Ekta Zindabad, and hum ladenge aur jeetenge. All resolved to fight and win this battle against privatization which is part of the anti-people, anti-worker and anti-national agenda of the Indian monopoly capitalists.