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PSU general insurers' employees observe strike to protest proposed privatisation

11:06 PM Aug 04, 2021 | PTI

Employees of public sector general insurance (PSGI) companies went on a one-day nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest against intended privatisation of state-owned insurers.

The Joint Front of Trade Unions in PSGI companies had met on Monday and decided to protest against the decision of the government to privatise PSGI firms.

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The one-day strike against the passage of the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill 2021 in the Lok Sabha was successful across the country, General Insurance Employees All India Association''s General Secretary K Govindan claimed.

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About 52,000 employees and officers across all four PSGI companies participated in the day-long strike, he added.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday without discussion amid continuing protests by Opposition parties on the Pegasus snooping row and other issues.

Bank officers'' union the All India Bank Officers'' Confederation (AIBOC) extended support to the strike call. The All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) too expressed their solidarity with striking unions.

AIBOC General Secretary Soumya Datta said the union would extend solidarity in the future too to ward off any move to privatise the sector.

AIBOC will fight to ''Save Public Sector, Save India'' and will organise a mass movement across the nation to mobilise public opinion against the anti-people policies of the government, he added.

"We oppose the hurried passage of bill on privatisation of general insurance," AIBEA General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said.

As per the statement of objects and reasons of The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021, it seeks to remove the requirement that the central government should hold not less than 51 per cent of the equity capital in a specified insurer.

"These measures will therefore enable the government to privatise all the four public sector general insurance companies and the reinsurer GIC Re.

"The argument of the Finance Minister that it is not privatisation but an effort towards greater private participation sounds somewhat ludicrous," another union the All India Insurance Employees' Association (AIIEA) said.

One should not forget that even today the PSGI companies occupy the first five slots in terms of premium and also claims settlement, it added.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2021-22 had announced a big-ticket privatisation agenda which included two public sector banks and one general insurance company.

"We propose to take up privatisation of two public sector banks and one general insurance company in the year 2021-22. This would require legislative amendments," she had said.

As of date, there are four general insurance companies in the public sector -- National Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited and the United India Insurance Company Limited.

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