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Plan to privatise major ports opposed

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Will oppose implementation of Labour Codes, says union leader

Andhra Pradesh

A protest was organised by trade unions, owing allegiance to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), at the Visakhapatnam Port Trust here on Wednesday demanding withdrawal of the proposal to privatise major ports in the country and against the proposed privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP).

United Port and Dock Employees Union secretary B. Jagan told the gathering that the NDA government seemed to be in a great hurry to implement new economic policies. “Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had proposed to raise ₹1.75 lakh crore through the sale of Public Sector Undertakings and to sell one of the major ports, which was earning high profits, to private entities. A proposal was also made to raise ₹2,000 crore through the sale of the assets of major ports,” Mr. Jagan alleged.

He alleged that the Centre was planning to divest 79% stake in the Life Insurance Corporation apart from trying to hand over Air India, BSNL, steel plants, BPCL, SCI Container Corporation, HICL, SAIL, Railways and 10 airports to corporate firms.

Mr. Jagan said that the BJP-led NDA was planning to introduce the Major Ports Bill in the ensuing Budget session, ignoring the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2019. If the Bill was approved by Parliament, it would pave the way for handing over the major ports to corporates, he alleged.

The Bill would also enable the major ports to park their surplus funds and pension funds in Indian and foreign private corporate banks apart from selling their lands at throwaway prices. The trust boards of the major ports have to function under the directions of the Central government as per Sub-Section 1 and 2 of Section 50, he said.

The IPA Chairman had assured the port federations of discussing the issue with them and assured them there was no cause for worry, when they met him on December 5, 2019. But the Finance Minister had announced in the Budget that one of the major ports would be privatised during the present fiscal.

He alleged that the implementation of four Labour Codes would turn the workers into ‘slaves’ and called for opposing them till they were withdrawn.

Union leaders B. Lakshman Rao, J. Satyanarayana, Trinadha Rao and Yella Rao were among those who participated.

At a separate protest organised by the CITU, copies of the Labour codes brought out by the NDA government were burnt on Wednesday.

CITU president R.K.S.V. Kumar and general secretary M. Jaggu Naidu were among those who participated.

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