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PSU general insurance company employees go on strike to oppose govt's privatisation plan

Employees of public sector general insurance companies (GIC) are observing a nationwide one-day strike to protest against the Centre’s privatisation plan for state-run insurers
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File photo)
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File photo)
  • The argument of the Finance Minister that it is not privatisation but an effort towards greater private participation sounds somewhat ludicrous, said AIIEA
  • AIBOC and AIBEA also extended support to the nationwide strike by general insurance company employees

New Delhi: Barely days after the Lok Sabha passed the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 without discussion amidst continuing din by the Opposition over the Pegasus snooping row, employees of public sector general insurance companies (GIC) are observing a nationwide one-day strike to protest against the Centre’s decision to privatise state-run insurers. Employees of all four PSU GICs are participating in the day-long strike on Wednesday, said General Insurance Employees All India Association general secretary K Govindan. 

The Joint Front of Trade Unions in state-run GIC companies had met on Monday and decided to protest against the Centre’s privatisation plan.  

Trade unions oppose privatisation of PSU GICs

The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021, seeks to remove the requirement that the Central government must hold not less than 51 percent of the equity capital in an insurer. “These measures will therefore enable the government to privatise all the four public sector general insurance companies and the reinsurer GIC Re. The argument of the Finance Minister that it is not privatisation but an effort towards greater private participation sounds somewhat ludicrous,” said All India Insurance Employees’ Association (AIIEA).

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One should not forget that even today the public sector general insurance (PSGI) companies occupy the first five slots in terms of premium and also claim settlement, said AIIEA. It added that in 2020 and 2021, penalties were imposed against private insurance companies only. The number of grievances registered against private insurance companies were 82 percent as opposed to 18 percent for public sector GIC, the AIIEA said.

AIBOC extends support to strike

Meanwhile, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) and All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) also extended support to the nationwide strike by general insurance company employees. AIBOC general secretary Soumya Datta said that the union supports the insurance union’s strike against the government’s privatisation drive.

Background

In her Budget speech for 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the government’s mega privatisation plan, under which the government is supposed to retain a bare-minimum presence in strategic sectors, which includes finance, and privatise or merge PSUs in other sectors. She had also declared the Centre’s intention to privatise two public sector banks and one general insurance company.

“We propose to take up privatisation of two public sector banks and one general insurance company in the year 2021-22. This would require legislative amendments,” she had said. There are four general insurance companies in the public sector — National Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited and the United India Insurance Company Limited.

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