12,000 Bharat Petroleum Employees On Strike Against Privatisation; BSNL, Indian Railways Employees Can Join Them
On 28 November, around 12,000 employees of state-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) have threatened the company to go on a strike.
How Did This Happen?
The employees of the oil and gas company are going against the Union government’s decision to privatize the company.
There is also news of worker’s unions of other public sector entities join this strike in solidarity.
The senior BPCL workers’ union functionaries said that unions cutting across political affiliations from other public sector undertakings (PSUs) such as Indian Oil Corp.Ltd (IOC), Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL), Indian Railways, Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL), and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will support them by joining this nationwide protests.
Praveen Kumar P. said, “If the government does not reconsider its decision on BPCL’s privatization, we would be joined by employees of other oil companies in our strike which will go on for multiple days,”. (Reference)
He is the general secretary of Cochin Refineries Employees Association, an affiliate of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
What Does BPCL Say?
“BPCL employee unions have given a strike notice that they plan to observe a day’s strike on 28 November. All efforts are being made to ensure that the refineries and marketing locations are running normal,” said BPCL spokesperson.
BPCL had 11,971 permanent and 22,267 temporary, contractual or casual employees as of 31 March.
How Will This Happen?
20 November, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the sale of the government’s entire stake in BPCL.
According to that, the potential bidders will have to submit an expression of interest (EoI) and after due diligence will be asked to submit price bids as part of the privatization process.
The valuation of BPCL’s assets will be carried out by an outside “asset valuer” as the government has set a 50-day deadline for the same.
What Is The Benefit Behind This Privatization?
It is expected that this privatization process of BPCL will attract global energy majors to the economy since India is the world’s fastest-growing major oil market.
The earnings from this sale will be very significant for the government since it will help to contain its fiscal deficit amid lower-than-expected goods and services tax collections and a corporate tax cut that will cost the exchequer ?1.45 trillion.
As per the news, the government is planning to sell its 53.3% stake in the company which may account for ?60,000 crore.
What Does BPCL Employees Feel About The Privatization Of The Company?
An anonymous BPCL employee said “We feel cheated by the government now. We had joined BPCL on the security of a government job but with privatization, our livelihoods are threatened. We are protesting for our rights,”.
This is not happening for the first time fro BPCL since a similar attempt in 2003 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
That attempt was scuttled by the Supreme Court, ruling that the privatization required parliamentary approval.
Now Narendra Modi government has repealed the law, clearing the way for the stake sale.