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Scrap divestment ministry: BMS

June 16, 2003 18:26 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party-affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has sought scrapping of the divestment ministry and freezing of all future divestment programmes.

It has urged for putting in place a tripartite body with equal representation to all 'social partners' to take up the cases of loss-making PSUs.

"We want the government to stop divestment and scrap the divestment ministry. We do not want the ministry and its group of ministers and secretaries," BMS general secretary Uday Patwardhan told pro-RSS weekly Organiser.

Stating that one should not distinguish between the functions of the government and the identity of a political party, Patwardhan said at the time of framing economic policies in the 1990's, the government had assured that trade would go up and the export position would become comfortable and eventually India would be in a position to repay the debt.

"After 12 years, still trade loss haunts us. From Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion), now it has gone up to Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 400 billion). Today we see neither foreign trade going up nor are we able to generate employment," he said.

He said the divestment ministry should be replaced by a tripartite body which will find measures to turnaround the sick public sector units.

"In its place, we want a tripartite body with equal representation to all social partners who can take up the case of loss-making PSUs," he said, adding that this should be done to 'find out measures to strengthen them, make them viable and also to find other modes of ownership.'

On being asked whether the government should opt out of the World Trade Organisation on the grounds that it may not serve India's interest, Patwardhan said: "Walking out of WTO is our last option."

Stating that quitting the organisation has never been BMS' first priority, he said. "We always want the WTO to mend its ways. India must assume the role of the leader of developing countries. The government should invite the developing countries, try to assess their problems and lead them at the WTO forum."

On labour reforms, he said the trade unions want amendments to labour laws for extending more protection to labourers.

"The new proposals for labour reforms like increase in working hours, reduction in holidays, dictatorial type of work style, permission to contract system etc are going to disintegrate labour," he said.

The BMS general secretary said the more labour destabilises, the less will be the productivity.

"For productivity what labour needs is peace of mind, assurance and guarantee of employment," he said.

He said BMS has decided to organise rallies, dharnas and demonstrations across the country from July 23 (the foundation day of BMS) to August 9, (the Quit India Movement's commemoration day), to draw the attention of the government against some of its policies.

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