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Coronavirus package | Unions hit out against FM’s ‘privitisation’ announcements

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the fourth part of her press conference on the economic stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the National Media Centre, in New Delhi on May 16, 2020.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the fourth part of her press conference on the economic stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the National Media Centre, in New Delhi on May 16, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Govt. using COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to implement its political agenda, they say

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcements on May 16 of measures to boost several sectors through liberalisation of norms and increased privitisation were met with criticism from trade unions, including the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

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Ms. Sitharaman made the announcements as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan — the ₹20 lakh crore economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 12.

Stating that they “objected” to the Minister’s announcements, which were the fourth set of such announcements this week, the BMS said in a statement there was a need to find novel ways to revive the economy, “not failed ideas”.

“The fourth day of announcements by the FM is a sad day for the nation and its people,” the BMS said, after having welcomed the first three sets of announcements.

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“Eight sectors [coal, minerals, defence production, airspace management, airports, power distribution, space and atomic energy] are in focus, but the government saying it has no option except privatisation is a show of dearth of ideas on economic revival in times of crisis. The impact of every change first falls adversely on employees,” the BMS said.

It said the decisions were taken without consultation and dialogue with trade unions, social representatives and stakeholders, showing a “lack of confidence in their [government’s] own ideas”.

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Stating that the trade unions were already agitating against plans to privatise in most of the sectors mentioned by Ms. Sitharaman, the BMS said: “Now the government machinery, Fnance Ministry will involve mainly working on privatisation and in communicating with corporates and will not find time to give attention to the social sectors like labour, agriculture and MSMEs for which the FM has allotted attention for the last three days.”

All-India Trade Union Congress’ general secretary Amarjeet Kaur said the announcements “had nothing to do with COVID-19 relief measures”.

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“The government is using the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to implement its political agenda. Unions in the mining sector and ordnance factories were already opposing the moves to privatise and the government had deferred the decisions. But now, if unions go on strike, the government will portray them as a hindrance to the COVID-19 economic measures,” she said.

She said the decisions would not lead to protection of India’s own industries.

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The Centre of Indian Trade Unions said, “The CITU condemns such desperate auctioneering of the strategic industrial units in defence production, coal and bauxite mining, aviation sector, electricity, space and atomic energy and other national assets and resources in favour of private and foreign players, which is severely detrimental to national interests.”

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 12:34:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-package-unions-hit-out-against-fms-privitisation-announcements/article31603393.ece

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