Indian unions plan massive joint protests against government’s privatization schemes
An employee of a public sector bank, wearing cap and face mask,participates in a protest against the privatization of their banks by the government, in Ahmedabad, India, March 15, 2021. More protests are planned Oct. 7 against plans by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to privatize more sectors of the economy. | Ajit Solanki / AP

Indian unions are taking action on Oct. 7, the “World Day for Decent Work.” against plans by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to privatize key assets and sectors of the economy.

In August, the government of India announced a policy called the “National Monetization Pipeline” (NMP), listing many important public infrastructure assets to be sold off to the private sector over the next four years, including mining, aviation, ports, natural gas and petroleum product pipelines, railways, and the power sector. This is not merely a funding mechanism for the government; it marks an overall shift to privatization of core sectors.

In an additional move, which will lead to precarious employment and unsafe working conditions, the Indian government is pushing for labor law amendments which would exclude and deprive workers of a number of current legal protections and likely lead to violations of human rights and the elimination of core workers’ rights.

Dr. G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president of Indian National Metalworkers’ Federation and IndustriALL executive committee member, says:

“India is facing a social and economic policy paralysis as the government is moving to lease or sell all infrastructure services and core industries to private companies. We, the trade unions in India, will together organize, campaign, and hold a country-wide protest on October 7th under the name of ‘Mission India.’

He called on all working people in India “to come forward and participate in this joint demonstration and struggle so that our legitimate rights and jobs will be protected.”

Despite many difficulties and restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian unions and sectoral federations have a tradition of joint protests and opposition. However, the government a has not heeded the workers’ voice and is continuing to push for regressive changes to the economic and social system of the country.

Modi’s government is promoting the privatization of profitable public companies, including Vishakhapatnam Steel Plant, while undermining the democratic rights of working people without consulting stake-holders, like workers and trade unions.

Sanjay Vadhavkar, general secretary of Steel, Metal, and Engineering Workers’ Federation of India and IndustriALL executive committee member said the government is showing its “complete disconnect with the vital demands of the working people” and is “deliberately using the pandemic to hand over the people’s wealth to its corporate cronies.”

Vadhavkar vowed that the struggle will continue until the labor law reversals “are scrapped and the government’s attempts to privatize core businesses are stopped.”




IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy, and manufacturing sectors and is a new force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world. IndustriALL Global Union representa a 50 millones de trabajadores en 140 países en los sectores de la minería, la energía y la manufactura y es una nueva fuerza de solidaridad mundial que lucha por mejores condiciones laborales y derechos sindicales en todo el mundo.