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Oilmen to go on nationwide strike on Jan 8 against disinvestment policy

Central Trade Unions are set to observe a nation-wide strike on January 8 to protest against the government’s disinvestment policy towards PSUs

Oilmen to go on nationwide strike on Jan 8 against disinvestment policy
Oilmen to go on nationwide strike on Jan 8 against disinvestment policy

New Delhi: Central Trade Unions are set to observe a nation-wide strike on January 8 to protest against the government’s disinvestment policy towards PSUs. On Monday, the National Federation of Petroleum, Chemical and Engineering Workers, affiliated to INTUC, served a notice to ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation), Indian Oil, BPCL (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd) and HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd). The news comes as the government is set to offer its entire 53.29 percent stake in BPCL to a strategic player as part of its disinvestment policy. Other PSUs that are on the list include THDC, NEEPCO, SCI and CONCOR.

Indian Oil Workers serve strike notice against disinvestment policy

Separately, the Indian Oil Corporation Pipelines Workers’ Union has also served a strike notice for January 8. They have said in the letter that the union will join other central trade unions on January 8 to protest against the government’s disinvestment policy in general and the alleged plan to hive off Indian Oil’s pipeline business as was reported by PSU Watch. “Workmen of BKPL/PHBPL (Barauni) /HMRBPL (Jasidih) will observe the strike on January 8 to protest against the disinvestment policy of the government, monetisation and privatisation of pipelines division of Indian Oil and other PSUs,” they said in a letter.

Why privatise excellently-run, cash-rich PSUs, ask unions

The trade unions have said that they are protesting against the government’s decision to privatise excellently-run, cash-rich PSUs. “The Central trade unions note with indignation that the recent economic ‘bailout packages’ presented by the government are meant to benefit the big business houses and shall cost the exchequer of the country a huge amount of Rs 1.45 lakh crore. More such packages are under consideration of the government now to cover the revenue loss, the government has resorted to selling out PSUs with huge physical and financial assets,” the National Federation of Petroleum, Chemical and Engineering Workers said in the letter. The Central Trade Unions have appealed to all the PSU workers in the country to take part in the country-wide general strike on January 8.

The backdrop

Minister of State (MoS) for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur recently told the Rajya Sabha that profitability, or the lack of it, in PSUs is not a criterion for the government to decide whether a PSU should be divested or not. “The list of PSUs shortlisted for strategic disinvestment includes profit-making, as well as loss-making CPSEs. The government follows a policy of strategic disinvestment of CPSEs, which are not in ‘priority sectors.’

For this purpose, NITI Aayog has been mandated to identify such CPSEs based on the criteria of (i) National Security, (ii) Sovereign function at arm’s length, and (iii) Market Imperfections and Public Purpose. However, profitability/loss of the CPSEs is not among the relevant criteria,” Thakur told the Upper House of the Parliament.

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