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RINL staff firm on indefinite stir against privatisation

All unions including BMS seek merger of RINL with SAIL, NMDC

RINL staff firm on indefinite stir against privatisation

RINL staff firm on indefinite stir against privatisation

Visakhapatnam: AS part of the decision to step up their agitation against the Centre's decision to sell 100 per cent stake in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), the trade unions have threatened to go on an indefinite strike anytime on or after March 25.

Showing rare show of unity mainly after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's announcement reiterating the Centre's firmness to go ahead with privatisation of the country's first shore-based steel plant, which was set up after 'Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku'agitation claiming 32 lives in police firing in late 1960s, they have decided to serve a notice on the management on Thursday. Serving a notice before two weeks to prevent its (strike) declaration as 'illegal' is required as per labour laws.

The unions including those belonging to Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which is part of Sangh Parivar, are also insisting on merger of RINL with SAIL and NMDC to keep it in the public sector and keep it back on the right track.

The NDA Government has put the RINL's gross properties including intangible assets as on December 31, 2020 at Rs32,022 crore and outstanding dues at Rs21,236 crore.

"We will go on cease-work agitation anytime after March 25 to bring pressure on the BJP-led NDA Government against its anti-Andhra decision to sell RINL lock, stock and barrel,"CITU State president and Ukku Porata Parirakshana Samiti chairman Ch. Narsinga Rao, told Bizz Buzz on Wednesday.

He termed the two letters written by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as an eyewash and alleged that the Centre had already made up its mind to hand over RINL with over 20,000 acres of land to private parties on a golden platter.

Authorities heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday as the striking employees and their families who paralysed traffic on the National Highway abutting Kurmannapalem gate of the steel plant, suspended it to facilitate voters to cast their franchise in the elections held for Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation after a gap of 14 years.

The plant operated with skeletal staff and one blast furnace as two other furnaces were shut down due to various reasons on Wednesday with the employees going on impromptu agitation on Wednesday. The agitators also gathered RINL Director (Finance) VV Venugopal Rao for about six hours as tension gripped the industrial areas a day after the statement made by Sitharaman in the Parliament. AITUC all India vice-president DAdinarayana said prominent trade union leaders would attend a rally of 20,000 people at Krishna Grounds of the steel plant on March 20. Tapan Sen of CITU, Amarjee Kaur of AITUC and G Sanjeeva Reddy of INTUC and BMS national secretary Surendra Pandey will be the key speakers.

Farmer leaders mainly from Kisan Morcha will take out another rally in the city and attend a public meeting on March 28. All the trade union leaders have also decided to go in a delegation to New Delhi to apprise MPs of various parties on how RINL could be prevented from privatisation. Adinarayana said they would expose the machinations behind the decision to sell 100 per cent stake in RINL and its subsidiaries/joint ventures.

Chief Minister during his interaction with the trade unions leaders at Visakhapatnam International Airport had favoured exploring stock option, converting loans into short-term, granting of captive iron ore mines to bring down production cost and selling surplus lands of 7,000 acres into residential plots.

Santosh Patnaik
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