Central trade unions set to launch protests against monetisation pipeline

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Ten central trade unions will be conducting a series of protests starting Thursday, ahead of their planned two-day nationwide strike during the Budget session of Parliament. The trade unions intending to hold the protests include the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (Citu), and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). The demonstrations and strikes are aimed at protesting the central government’s decisions to fully or partially privatise the public sector units (PSUs) and the effect these moves will have on the working class in the country. However, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the labour union affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), will not be participating in the protests.

According to a joint statement issued by the protesting trade unions, the demonstrations against the central government’s disinvestment policy intend to make people aware of the “dangerous effects” of the move. The national convention of trade unions, which is to be held on Thursday, is the first in a series of demonstrations to reach out to the citizens of the nation, the unions said, adding that this will be followed by state-level conventions and protests all over India.

As per a media report citing the statement issued by the trade unions, Thursday’s national convention will be “followed by a two-day countrywide general strike during the Budget Session in 2022.” Meanwhile, November 26 has been fixed as the nationwide protest day, since the date marks the anniversary of the National General Strike of trade unions and the ‘Kisan March’ (farmers’ foot march) to Delhi.

The national monetisation pipeline (NMP), against which the 10 trade unions are protesting, is a scheme introduced by the central government to raise as much as $81 billion by leasing out state-owned infrastructure assets over the next four years. According to the Union ministry of finance, the NMP will help fund new capital expenditure without putting pressure on government finances. However, the trade unions call the plan a “destructive” and “nefarious design” to hand over public infrastructural assets to private hands at little to no cost.

The unions had also marked protests against the monetisation pipeline policy earlier on October 7, when they alleged that the move announced by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is merely a scheme to hand government assets to private hands “virtually free”.

Meanwhile, according to the government vision, NMP is envisaged to serve as a medium-term roadmap for identifying potential monetisation-ready projects, across various infrastructure sectors. The NMP has been prepared after insights, feedback, and experiences consolidated through multi-stakeholder consultations undertaken by Niti Aayog, the finance ministry, and the infrastructure line ministries.

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