Unions unite to protest listing of PSU insurance firms

Central trade unions, including Rashtriya Sevak Sangh affiliate BMS, on Thursday condemned the government's decision to list public sector general insurance firms and said it would hold protests if the decision was not reversed.

"It is a dangerous step leading to public sector weakening and also allowing private sector insurance companies to penetrate public sector," All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta told PTI.

"It (the decision) was unnecessary. It reflects government's anti-public sector policy," he said.

 Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) in a statement said, "BMS doesn't find any justification in yesterday's Cabinet decision for divesting stakes in the insurance companies.

"BMS opposes the decision of the Cabinet and demands to withhold it, otherwise we will be compelled to hold agitation along with all other public sectors."

The government started to open the doors of the insurance sector for foreign direct investment since the commencement of New Economic Policy in 1991 as a result of which many private companies started operation in India, it said.

In spite of stiff and unhealthy competition, domestic companies are succeeding in marketing, penetration and giving better costumer services. The claim settlement is best in the industry where as others are far behind, BMS added.

"It is unfortunate that government is finding FDI as a solution and remedy to all financial problems and targeting well settled, profit-making undertakings for disinvestment. It is an established fact that our PSUs have been backbone of our economy and became a cause of sustainability during recession," BMS said.

"The move for disinvestment of public sector general insurance companies is found to be not at all for improving transparency, accountability or capital base but for weakening of these PSU companies to the advantage of private sector insurance players and for finally pushing them towards privatisation. Such move cannot be in the interest of the national economy," the Centre for Indian Trade Unions said.

CITU called upon the trade union movement and working class people in general to unite to oppose and resist such retrograde move of disinvestment in public sector general insurance companies.

"It extends full solidarity to the protest action being organised by the insurance employees movement against such disastrous move," CITU said.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave in principle approval for listing of state-run general insurance companies - New India Assurance Company, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company and General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC).

The government shareholding in these companies will be reduced from 100 per cent to 75 per cent in one or more tranches over a period of time, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said after the CCEA meeting.