Indian unions are taking action against the government’s plans to privatize key assets and sectors on 7 October, World Day for Decent Work, as the so-called National Monetisation Pipeline could violate human and worker’s rights and fail to create decent jobs.
In August, the government of India announced a policy called National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), listing many important government's infrastructure assets and sectors, including mining, aviation, ports, natural gas and petroleum product pipelines, railways and power sector, to be sold over the next four years. This is not merely a funding mechanism for the government, but marks an overall shift to privatization of core sectors.
In an additional move, which will lead to precarious employment and unsafe working conditions, the Indian government is pushing for labour law amendments, which would exclude and deprive workers from legal protection and lead to violations of human rights and the elimination of core labour rights.
Dr. G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president of Indian National Metalworkers' Federation and IndustriALL executive committee member, says:
"India is facing a social and economic policy paralysis as the government is moving to lease or sell all infrastructure services and core industries to private companies. We, the trade unions in India, will together organize, campaign and hold a country-wide protest on 7 October under the name of Mission India.
“We call all working people to come forward and participate in this joint demonstration and struggle so that our legitimate rights and jobs will be protected."
Despite many difficulties and restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian unions and sectoral federations have a tradition of joint protests and opposition. However, the government a has not heeded the workers' voice and is continuing to push for changes the economic and social system of the country.
India’s government is promoting the privatization of profit-making companies, including Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant, while undermining the democratic rights of working people without consulting stake-holders, like workers and trade unions.
Sanjay Vadhavkar, general secretary of Steel, Metal & Engineering Workers’ Federation of India and IndustriALL executive committee member, says:
“The government shows its complete disconnect with the vital demands of the working people and how they are deliberately using the pandemic to hand over the people’s wealth to its corporate cronies.
The united struggle will continue until the four labour codes are scrapped and the government’s attempts to privatize core businesses are stopped.”
Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary, supports the joint protest of the Indian unions and says:
"We are in solidarity with the workers and people of India and urge the government to recognise the genuine concerns of working people. The government should immediately withdraw its policy proposals and establish an inclusive social and political consultation with all stakeholders, including workers and trade unions."