The agitation by employees against the privatisation of the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) is likely to intensify after one of the employees committed suicide. The employees, who are already carrying out relay hunger strikes since last week have made it clear that they continue the strike.
N Venkatesh, who hails from Vizianagaram district ended his life to protest the government move to sell all its shares in the company, said a report in The Hindu Business Line. The body of the victim was discovered on Monday evening near the railway track in Vizianagaram. He had reportedly left a suicide note that stated that the step was taken in protest against the selling of government equities in the company.
In response to these developments, the staff of the company went on a mass casual leave on Tuesday. They have also made it clear that they will move forward with their decision to carry out indefinite strike unless the government backs away from its decision. In addition to this, a meeting convened by the CITU of all trade unions on Tuesday also decided to stage demonstrations in front of all industrial establishments in Visakhapatnam today.
The crux of the matter lies in the decision by the central government to sell 73.47 percent shares in the Visakhapatnam-based company. The government had set a target to raise Rs 72,500 crore through divestment during 2017-18 financial year of which Rs 15,000 crore was to come through strategic sales. The sale of shares in DCI is part of this Rs 15,000 crore plan and is expected to generate approximately Rs 1400 crore.
“The government is withdrawing its 73.47 percent of shares… They want to privatise it and go for the strategic sale… The employees want to stop the privatisation,” said B.H Nayak, President, Officers’ Association of DCI.While the main reason for the employees to oppose privatisation is the fear that many of them will be forced to take voluntary retirement, speculations that the company’s headquarters may be shifted from Visakhapatnam too has increased the resentment.