Employees of the Visakhapatnam steel plant have served a strike notice in continuation of the protests against the Union government’s decision to privatise the plant. The strike will be called on or after March 25, according to a notice issued by the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee (Committee for Struggle to Protect Visakha Steel).
Multiple demands were listed in the strike notice, relating to various steps being taken towards complete privatisation of the Vizag steel plant. The committee, which comprises employees and workers of the plant, has demanded that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) revoke its approval for 100% strategic sale of the steel plant. It has also demanded that the “inter-secretaries group constituted to study the strategic sale” be scrapped.
The committee has demanded that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the South Korean steel production company POSCO for the construction of an integrated steel plant be scrapped. The Andhra Pradesh government has invited POSCO to set up its greenfield integrated steel plant in Nellore district. It has also promised to extend various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives over and above those stipulated in the state Industrial Policy 2020-23.
Through the strike notice, the committee also sought suspension of another MoU signed by RINL (Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited) with state-run construction company NBCC on monetisation of land parcels at Maddilapalem. RINL, the corporate entity of the Visakhapatnam steel plant, expects to gain Rs 1,000 crore from the sale of its 22.19-acre land located in Maddilapalem, a prime location in the heart of Visakhapatnam city situated about 3-4 km from the beach.
The committee has also sought permanent employment to all the R-card holders (rehabilitation card holders) who were displaced at the time of establishment of the steel plant in the 1970s, and are yet to be compensated.