"BEML is not for sale. Save BEML, Save nation" banners welcomed Arun Jaitley to the PSU's unit in Bengaluru on Saturday. Employees of Bharat Earth Movers Limited made their angst clear to the Defense minister over the government's proposal to sell 26 per cent stakes in the company.
Dozens of employees gathered at the venue where Arun Jaitley inaugurated the BEML's third Line ultra modern metro manufacturing facility to enhance the production of metro cars. Many staff wore tags opposing the government's disinvestment move.
BEML manufactures in three verticals: rail and metro, earth moving equipment and defence. The staff claim that with disinvestment comes the risk of compromising on the confidentiality of defence manufacturing.
"We come under the ministry of defence. BEML started with an investment of Rs 5 crores but now we are a profit making entity with profits of Rs 3,560 crores. We request the government to not go ahead with its proposal of 26 per cent strategic sale," said Srinivas, the President of the BMEL employees association.
"We are a profit making company and are in the business of defence manufacturing. Our defence equipment has helped Indian military forces win two wars. If the government privatises this company, our documents, defence manufacturing secrets will be accessed by private persons. This should not happen. We have given Rs 960 crore in dividends to the government," he added.
"Why is the government moving to disinvest a profit making entity?"
A group of BEML staff made a representation to Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday and submitted a plea to stop the disinvestment process. The staff had just one question to ask, why is the government bent upon selling off a profit making entity?
"The purpose of setting up public sector itself is to generate employment, to ensure social justice and uplift the down trodden. This proposed disinvestment will defeat that very purpose. BSNL are classic examples. Corporates that come forward will eventually outsource it to someone else for marginal profits. They have no national interest. What happens to 8,000 employees of BEML, contract operators both technical and non-technical, vendors, suppliers etc?" asked Bhupathi Rao, General Secretary, BEML employees association.
Employees have been protesting at all BEML units since the government's decision became official. They intend to continue their protest until the government withdraws its decision.