Visakhapatnam: They didn't give up until their voice was heard, they will not do so now

D Adi Narayana, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress; J Ayodhya Ram, president of the recognised Union of RINL; Mantri Rajashekar, national secretary of Indian National Trade Union Congress
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D Adi Narayana, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress; J Ayodhya Ram, president of the recognised Union of RINL; Mantri Rajashekar, national secretary of Indian National Trade Union Congress

Highlights

Visakhapatnam: Decades ago, 32 people had laid down their lives to establish Visakhapatnam Steel Plant in the shore city. As the battle to save the pl...

Visakhapatnam: Decades ago, 32 people had laid down their lives to establish Visakhapatnam Steel Plant in the shore city. As the battle to save the plant from private hands gets longer, agitators make it clear that they will not give up until the Centre takes back its proposal even if it costs their dear life.

In 2012, thousands of employees of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) had called for a day-long strike to protest against disinvestment plans. A few years down the line, VSP employees and trade union leaders went on indefinite strike for the management's decision to introduce Total Maintenance Contract (TMC) at various facilities across the plant.

They observed shift-wise strike then. Employees used to cut short their shift timings for a couple of hours to join the strike against TMC.

Despite staging a protest in various forms in the past few days, production did not get affected at the plant. This is largely due to the protestors not calling for a strike. But now the scenario is likely to change.

In order to make their voice heard by the Centre, the plant employees and the union leaders say that they will not hesitate to go for a strike even if it affects production at RINL.

Even when POSCO, the South Korean steel joint, came up with a proposal of setting up a special grade Greenfield steel plant at Ukkunagaram, employees protested on a massive scale, impacting the production of the plant to an extent.

To extend support to the agitators, family members of the employees will join the protest. "The agitation is sure to continue until the Union government withdraws its proposal on privatisation. Currently, RINL employees, trade union representatives, political leaders are protesting.

Going forward, the family members of the employees will also join the agitation," says J Ayodhya Ram president of the recognised Union of RINL. Uncertainty looms large with the proposal of privatisation. "People had lost their lives to set up the plant. Their sacrifice will go down the drain if the company gets privatised now. Moreover, there will not be any job security for the personnel if RINL gets into private hands.

This apart, locals will not be accorded priority when it comes to providing job opportunities," opines Mantri Rajashekar, national secretary of Indian National Trade Union Congress.

If the privatisation proposal becomes realty, union leaders feel that locals will be completely neglected as there is a larger scope for biased employment opportunities. "Agitation is not new to us.

We are ready to sacrifice our lives to protect the plant from the clutches of privatisation at any cost," confirms D Adi Narayana, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress.

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