The trade unions in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (the Visakhapatnam steel plant) are going ahead with the one-day strike on July 24 in protest against the Government's decision to offload 10 per cent of the stake, even though the IPO has been deferred.

At a press meet here on Tuesday, Mr J. Ayodhya Ram of the Steel Plant Empoyees' Union affiliated to the CITU, said 40,000 workers in the plant, permanent as well as those on contract, were firm on the strike as the disinvestment process would ultimately culminate in privatisation of the plant for which the people of Andhra Pradesh had made so many sacrifices.

The decision to defer the IPO, announced on Monday, was only a ploy to divert the attention of the workers and defeat the proposed strike on July 24. However, he asserted, such tactics would not work.

Mr A. Ajay Sarma, President of the State unit of the CITU, also took exception to the statement made by Mr T. Subbarami Reddy, Rajya Sabha Member and former Minister of State for Mines, that workers need not get agitated over the disinvestment move. He said Mr Subbarami Reddy could not get captive iron ore mines for the steel plant and he did nothing for its development and, therefore, he did not have the moral right to speak on the issue. He appealed to the workers not to lend credence to such statements by self-serving politicians.

The union leaders said the steel plant had borne the entire cost of expansion project, Rs 13,500 crore, out of its internal accruals and its present reserves amounted to Rs 5,898 crore. Therefore, there was absolutely no need to resort to disinvestment to mobilise funds for future projects.

(This article was published on July 17, 2012)
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