There will be no retrenchment of employees of Dredging Corporation of India Ltd (DCI) for five years after the state-owned company is privatised through the strategic sale route, according to a proposal being weighed by the government, an official said seeking to assuage employees’ concerns over the sale.

Mumbai-listed DCI — a profit-making entity — has 19 dredgers and ancillary crafts with 474 full-time employees, 1,035 contract workers and 332 trainees.

The employees have been agitating over the planned privatisation of the mini-ratna public sector undertaking, anxious over their future in a privatised set-up.

One of the employees, N Venkatesh, working as an assistant, allegedly committed suicide in protest against the proposed sale of the company.

“The terms and conditions of the strategic sale suitably address employees’ concerns in the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA)/ Share Holders Agreement (SHA) to be signed by the Government with the strategic buyer,” Minister of State for Shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan, told Parliament on February 8 in a written reply.

Offering of improved Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) along with the process of sale has also been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Radhakrishnan added.

“The decision for disinvestment of DCI is not based on profit earned by it. NITI Aayog has been entrusted to identify the Central Public-Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) for strategic disinvestment. NITI Aayog, in its report, has stated that it has been guided by the basic economic principle that the Government should not continue to engage itself in manufacturing/producing goods and services in sectors where the competitive markets have come of age and that such entities would perform better in the private hands due to various factors such as technology up-gradation and efficient management practices,” Radhakrishnan.

This decision aims to upgrade technology, improve capability, infuse capital to buy necessary dredgers/equipment and instill experienced professional management to optimise operations of the company, he added.

Legal advisor

The planned privatisation is chugging along with the government selecting a legal advisor and an asset valuer to help carry out the deal.

Mumbai-based Protocol Insurance Surveyors and Loss Assessors Pvt Ltd has been selected by the Shipping Ministry as asset valuer for the strategic sale of the state-owned company, a government official said, adding that the work order has not yet been issued. A legal advisor has also been selected by the inter-ministerial group (IMG) set up by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, Pon Radhakrishnan said.