Petroleum workers decide to strike work on 28th November to oppose privatisation
On November 20th 2019, a joint mass convention was organised in the Constitution Club, New Delhi, by the three federations representing oil and petroleum workers of India working in BPCL, HPCL, IOC, ONGC and Oil India Limited. The three federations were All India Petroleum Workers Federation (AIPWF), National Federation of Petroleum Workers (NFPW) and Petroleum and Gas Workers Federation of India (PGWFI).
Over 300 delegates from all over India participated in the Convention. Apart from the leaders of the above three federations, the convention was addressed by Sanjeev Reddy, National President of INTUC, Amarjit Kaur, All India Secretary of AITUC, Hibi Eden (INC), Elamaram Kareem (CPM), A. M. Arif (CPM), Binoy Vishwam (CPI) and KK Rajesh (CPM), all MP’s from Kerala, Gajanan Kirtikar, Anil Desai, Shiv Sena MP’s from Maharashtra and A. Mathew, Secretary, Kamgar Ekta Committee, Mumbai. Many delegates from all over India also spoke at the convention. The proceedings were conducted by Comrade Swadesh Dev Roy, ex General Secretary of PGWFI.
Speakers challenged the false propaganda of the bourgeoisie that Public Sector Units make the nation poor. The truth is that privatisation makes the capitalists rich and the country poor. The speakers exposed the capitalist lie that wealth is created by the capitalist class. They pointed out that it is human labour acting on nature that produces the material blessings of society.
The speakers highlighted the recent cases of united opposition to the government’s plans to corporatize 41 defence production units, to bring in 100% FDI in Coal sector and the announcement of corporatisation of 7 production units of railways. The strike actions of the workers in each of these sectors put the government on the back foot and forced it to stay its plans for the time being. Defence workers went on a three day strike on 26th, 27th and 28th January 2019 and on 20th August they launched a one month strike all over India which was a 100 % success. The Coal workers responded with a 100 % strike on 24th September 2019. The railway workers responded with mass resistance, overcoming the different union affiliations and with families of the workers who also came on the roads.
The speakers applauded the resolve of the oil and petroleum sector workers to go on strike on 28th November 2019.
Speakers pointed out that privatisation did not start with Modi Government, it was initiated by the then Congress Government in 1992. They condemned the present government’s intensified moves to privatise PSUs and pushing for a FDI driven economy. They pointed out that Modi’s Make in India should be renamed as Sell off India!
Addressing the meeting, the representative of KEC conveyed the message from the Trade Unions Joint Action Committee (TUJAC), Maharashtra, which consists of 30 unions including, AITUC, CITU, HMS, KEC, etc. that it will fully support the struggle of BPCL workers and all oil sector workers. He clarified that the Modi Government is only a manager for the interests of 150 big corporate monopolies who have financed his election and they are demanding that in return privatisation should be speeded up. He also pointed out that the program of globalisation through privatisation and liberalisation of the big capitalists has resulted in greatly increased concentration of wealth in India. In the year 2000, the top 1 per cent of Indians owned 35 per cent of the nation’s wealth and now after 19 years the top 1 per cent own 70 per cent of India’s wealth and this trend will continue in future too. Today the top three monopoly corporate groups, Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis control wealth equal to 10 per cent of India’s GDP. Private monopoly capitalists do not invest their own money but use the money of the people put in savings accounts, by taking loans. They play with this money and in case their business does not succeed it is the people’s money that is written-off! There is more than Rs. 10 lakh crores of bad debts and the Government has already written off three lakh crores.
He explained that before India became independent, the big capitalists of those days, Tatas, Birlas, etc., met in Mumbai in 1944 to work out an economic plan for the development of India. It was clear to them that the British would soon be forced to leave India and power would be transferred to their own hands. Hence the plan worked out by them also called the Bombay Plan or Tata Birla plan was that the Government should invest in heavy industry sectors such as Mining of Minerals, Steel, Power, Shipping, Railways, Telecommunications, Fertilisers, etc. These sectors required large capital and had long gestation periods. The combined wealth of the 20 leading private capitalists at that time was only Rs 100 crores. Hence they would invest in fast moving consumer items such as textiles, footwear, cement, automobiles, etc. which produced quick returns. This was exactly the same economic model that was implemented by the Congress Party led by Nehru after 1947 and marketed as the “socialistic pattern” of society. However if you sow a mango seed you will get mango fruits and similarly if you build a system which is for the benefit of the capitalist class they will benefit. This is what we are witnessing today with the wealth of big monopoly corporate increasing by leaps and bounds while the working people have to struggle to remain in the same place. It is this vision of India that we workers have to challenge.
Addressing the meeting, the General Secretaries of PGWFI and NFPW pointed out that the five oil companies, BPCJL, HPCL, IOCL, ONGL and OIL together give Rs 6 Lakhs crores as revenues in the form of taxes on fuel, etc., to the Central Government. They hailed the National Convention as a step towards further consolidation of the unity in struggle of the oil sector workers and applauded their numerous rallies and strike actions. The representative of the BPCL (Kochi Refinery) Employees Union applauded the efforts of the workers to mobilise support from the people around their refineries and installations.
All speakers called on the oil sector workers across the country to mobilise to the maximum and fully participate in the 8th January strike to send out a loud message to the rulers that it is NO to privatisation and liberalisation, and that we will fight for our right to livelihood and right to form unions.
Many delegates from all over India also addressed the gathering.
In the end the Presidium, concluded the meeting by congratulating all the delegates who had assembled from all over India at this convention. He called on them to make the strike in BPCL and HPCL a success on November 28th 2019 and called on all the workers from all the 5 Oil companies to take part in the January 8th All India General Strike.