In response to the Union Government’s affidavit, on the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), a large number of employees, and union representatives, gathered at the steel plant administration building to bolster the protests against this decision. The protests left long lines of vehicles, and several others commuting on this route jammed on the road for hours. Owing to the uncontrollable situation, the Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) were deployed to take charge of the happenings.
The protesters criticised the Central Government’s appeal in the Andhra Pradesh High Court and called for a statewide agitation. Hundreds of workers held placards, waved flags, and blocked the roads to express their dissatisfaction. In a strategic move to halt the operations at the steel plant, the agitators took control of the buses that were to ferry employees for the 9:00 am shift.
During the protests, slogans like ‘Visakha Ukku Andhralu Hakku’ pierced the air, calling for people in authority to represent the matter of VSP privatisation in the parliament. One of the protesters said “The Central Government is planning to sell the Jewel of Andhra by putting the lives of thousands of employees at stake. We will go to any extent to protect our pride. We, along with the steel plant delegation, will go to New Delhi and raise our concern at Jantar Mantar to seek national attention.”
To clarify, this affidavit informed the Andhra Pradesh High Court that the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is not a strategic enterprise under the New Public Sector Enterprise Policy for Atma Nirbhar Bharat. With this, the Government informed the court that the employees’ rights are not fundamental and not constitutionally mandated as such. It also reinstated the Central Government’s decision to privatise and also cleared any obligation pertaining to retrenchment or termination of employees.
For the uninitiated, here’s a timeline of all events in the privatisation of VSP.