Employees of the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. (BEML), who have been protesting for the past 700 days against the Central government move to privatise the profit-making mini ratna public sector unit, sent a mass petition to President Droupadi Murmu pleading to save the company.
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) State vice president and former Minister A.K. Balan inaugurated the mass appeal drive by sending the first postcard to the President on Wednesday, the 700th day of the agitation.
Mr. Balan warned that the Centre was committing an anti-national act by trying to sell the ₹50,000-crore assets of the BEML for a meagre ₹1,800 crore to corporates.
CITU district president P.K. Sasi presided over the function. CITU State committee member S.B. Raju welcomed the gathering. CITU general secretary M. Hamsa, Indian National Trade Union Congress district president Manoj Chinganoor, All India Trade Union Congress district secretary Muraleedharan Nair, INLC State president M. Unnikrishnan, and CITU district joint secretaries K. Suresh and C. Ambika spoke.
BEML Employees Association general secretary Gireesh S. proposed a vote of thanks.
One lakh postcards
The BEML Protection Council, which has been spearheading the protest, is sending one lakh postcards to the President seeking her mercy on the public sector unit. The Centre refused to withdraw from the move to sell off the BEML in spite of repeated demands by the employees, the State government and the people’s representatives.
The BEML is Asia’s second largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment. It has plants in Bengaluru, Kolar, Mysuru and Palakkad. The disinvestment move by the first Modi government was stalled following severe opposition to the plan. However, during its current spell, the Modi government appears resolute on selling the PSU.
The Kanjikode unit in Palakkad has 375 acres of leased land given by the State government. It manufactures army vehicles, passenger railway coaches, and metro coaches. It has 350 permanent employees and 150 contract workers. It has already churned out 1,500-odd heavy military trucks, 300 railway coaches and 500-odd metro bogies. The unit, according to BEML officials, is equipped to produce 500 metro bogies a year.