Govt Will Sell Bharat Petroleum To Private Firms; Employee Unions Up In Arms Against This Mega Disinvestment Drive
We have already informed you the Union government’s decision to sell the government’s stake in blue-chip oil firm Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) on Wednesday, by the end of this financial year.
Along with BPCL, the govt will also be selling Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and onland cargo mover Container Corporation of India (Concor) to private firms, as well as decided to cut shareholding in select public sector firms below 51% to boost revenue collections that have been hit by slowing economy.
Needless to mention, the employees of BPCL are not at all supportive of privatising the organisation and have decided to undertake a nationwide strike on November 28, with back support from other union parties too.
Govt to Sell Stakes in BPCL and Other PSUs
In the biggest privatisation drive, the Union Cabinet has not only decided to sell BPCL but also has decided to cut shareholding in select public sector firms below 51%.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the sale of government’s entire 53.29% stake and has transferred its management control over BPCL.
It has also approved the sale of 53.75% of the government holding of 63.75% stake in SCI and 30.9% stake in Concor. Simultaneously, the Cabinet has approved reducing the government’s stake in select PSUs, such as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), to below 51% while continuing to retain management control.
BPCL Employees to Hold a Nation-wide Strike
The BPCL centre at Kochi is the country’s largest public sector refinery. The employees there have started to raise voices and concerns, strongly disapproving the possible privatisation of the organisation.
After learning Sitharaman’s decision to sell BPCL to a private entity by March 2020, the employees along with the workers of various plants and refineries of the company across the country to undertake a nationwide strike on November 28.
BPCL houses about 12,000 permanent employees and thousands of contract staff. The Kochi refinery itself holds around 2,500 permanent staff and about 6,000 contract employees in addition to thousands of people employed in various projects of the refinery.
Among the various reasons for employees to not agree to privatisation of BPCL, the main concern is possible layoffs. They’re highly apprenhensive that selling the organisation to a multinational company would result in possible loss of jobs.
They are clearly aware that multinational oil companies are aiming to open their markets in India, which could result in the possible shut downs of multiple units of refineries to single ones.
Employees also fear that with privatisation, there will no longer be new recruitments. In Kerala, BPCL’s Kochi Refinery is the only public sector institution which is still actively recruiting people. Privatising BPCL will also affect job opportunities for our youth.
Trade unions cutting across political affiliations have decided to launch their own protests against this privatisation. Public sector companies form the backbone of the country, and selling them off was not in keeping with the nation’s security, said a notice issued by Mazdoor Sangh.
As many as 17 trade unions at various BPCL locations had met in Mumbai on September 28 to decide on the next course of action in case the government decided to go ahead with the privatisation move.
BPCL Kochi had made investments to tune of ?40,000 crore over the last five years.The investments include those on the expansion of its refining capacity and a petrochemical complex.