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BPCL privatisation: Trade unions planning massive action

In order to oppose BPCL privatisation, trade unions in the oil sector across India are organising a national convention against privatisation of PSUs on Oct 26

BPCL privatisation: Trade unions planning massive action
BPCL privatisation: Trade unions planning massive action

New Delhi: The government’s bid to put state-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) up for privatisation is set to be met with massive opposition from employees. In order to oppose the BPCL privatisation, trade unions in the oil sector across India are organising a national convention against privatisation of PSUs on October 26 that will see employees from BPCL, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation taking part.

All-India strike against BPCL privatisation?

CITU all-India Secretary and a Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) employee, Swadesh Debroy, said, “On October 26, we are going to have a meeting in Mumbai in which all the trade unions in India’s oil sector, ranging from BPCL to Indian Oil to ONGC, will take part. This is a national convention against privatisation of PSUs and from there we propose to issue a call of action that may culminate into a strike action also.”

‘Kochi, Numaligarh hub of protest activities’

Commenting on the current situation in the three major hotspots where BPCL refineries are located — Mumbai, Kochi (Kerala) and Numaligarh (Assam) — Debroy said, “People are already on the streets in the three main centres — Mumbai, Kochi and Numaligarh. Kochi and Numaligarh have become the hub of protest activities.”

"Our plan is to announce a national strike against BPCL privatisation that will involve both permanent and contractual employees in the second week of November that is synchronised with the Parliament session. And we will collect signatures of MPs in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Maharashtra and Assam and make our case before the President of India" -Aji MG, General Secretary, Cochin Refineries Workers Association

Indefinite dharna outside Kochi Refinery on Oct 17

Aji MG, General Secretary of the Cochin Refineries Workers Association, a trade union affiliated to CITU, said that Kochi saw at least 5,000 employees, including permanent and contractual employees, taking part in a convention on October 15. “Tomorrow BPCL employees in the southern part of India will start an indefinite dharna outside the Kochi refinery and will hold processions,” MG said.

Alt= A poster made by Cochin Refineries Workers Association 

Speaking of the national convention, MG said, “Our plan is to announce a national strike of BPCL that will involve both permanent and contractual employees in the second week of November that is synchronised with the Parliament session. And we will collect signatures of MPs in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Maharashtra and Assam and make our case before the President of India.

Alt= A poster made by Cochin Refineries Workers Association

ALSO READ: BPCL privatisation: In a letter, Kerala CM urges PM to act in national interest

The curious case of Numaligarh Refinery

On the road to BPCL privatisation, its subsidiary Numaligarh Refinery throws up a challenge that is one of its kind. “Numaligarh refinery has got a special, historical significance. It is a refinery which was established on the basis of what is called the Assam Accord which was signed between the then Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi and leaders of the Assam Movement. On the basis of that accord, the government made a commitment and the refinery came up.

Therefore, this is not a refinery that the government can privatise just like that,” said Debroy. And therefore, protests in Assam do not just involve the workforce of BPCL but also the general public, he added. The refinery was set up with the motive of providing employment to people in the area.

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