The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) on Thursday denounced the decision of the government to allow 49 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in Air India and said it was aimed at expediting the privatisation of the national carrier.
“The (Narendra) Modi government had already decided to push Air India for wholesale privatisation. And to expedite such privatisation move, the government has now made this announcement of permitting 49 per cent FDI. Actually, this is nothing but complete foreignisation of the national carrier-a public sector company with its huge asset base and a high-revenue earning international service network,” CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said.
He has said that the government is taking the plea of huge loss Air India is being burdened with to justify its move, but the Centre is seeking to hide the fact that the carrier has been pushed to this situation not because of its management’s failure but owing to “imposition of disastrous decisions on the company by successive governments at the Centre”.
Among the “disastrous decisions”, Sen listed the “hasty merger” of Indian Airlines and Air India and “forcible procurement” of a huge fleet of aircraft from foreign companies through direct purchase at an inopportune time thereby imposing on the company an “unbearable burden of indebtedness leading to loss”.
He also highlighted the fact that “despite such reckless and imprudent misadventure”, Air India has struggled to come back to operating profit for last three years.
Regarding the decision of the government of allowing 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail trade, the CITU-the trade union of the CPI(M) — condemned the move and said that the decision would increase the hardship of traditional retail market.
“Allowing 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail trade will further increase the hardship of traditional retail trade sector which is the second biggest livelihood giver after agriculture and expedite the ruin of the traditional retail trade sector,” Sen said.
The CITU has called upon the working class to build up a determined resistance against “such deliberate exercise” towards degeneration of the national economy and people’s livelihood both through sectoral and nationwide united struggle.