DLW Workers Want to Know: Why Is the PM Silent on Corporatisation?

Workers fear that Varanasi’s DLW will face the same fate as BSNL and Indian Airlines after corporatisation.

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Rumours of corporatisation of India’s seven loco production units, including Varanasi’s Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) have stirred uproar. Since the rumours have been doing the rounds, DLW workers have been protesting the move.

On 25 December 2014, PM Modi, in a rally in DLW, had said, “I love our Railways more than you do because Railways made my life. Those who are spreading rumours regarding the privatisation of Railways are only spreading fake information.”

Workers fear that DLW, after corporatisation, will face the same fate as BSNL and Indian Airlines and are hence, protesting the move.

“The director of the Railway Board had, on 18 June, issued a letter that said that seven production units were to be converted to rolling start companies. This production unit will be corporatised by converting it into a rolling start company, a move that workers are continuously protesting against.”
VN Dubey, Chief, DLW Workers’ Union

The 6,000 employees are worried about their future. They are not just scared of facing the same fate as the employees of BSNL and Indian Airlines but PM Modi’s silence after the 2014 rally in DLW on the corporatisation and privatisation of the loco manufacturing unit is only contributing to their fear.

“Modi ji had said that there will be no corporatisation or privatisation of the Railways and that these are but rumours. He told us not to believe in these rumours. He told us that Railways will remain as it is and we will continue to be workers. But now Modi ji is silent. Why is he silent?”
Vandana Singh, Homemaker

DLW workers believe that corporatisation is the first step to privatisation. A DLW worker, Mamta, believes that job security will be the biggest concern after corporatisation, wages of workers of seven production units will get adversely affected and there will be lesser vacancies. While government officials have reassured DLW workers that there will be no change in the wages or the status of DLW workers, they want to know what the need of corporatisation of Railways is, if everything is going to remain the same.

“The demand of locomotive and electric engines is limited in the global market. No matter how many engines we make, in the next four to five years, the situation will be such that we will not get our targets. The government gives us a target and buys that many engines. In future, when we compete in an open market, if China’s loco engines are cheaper, the Government of India will buy from China. The government will not be obliged to buy from us.”
Krishna Mohan, DLW Worker

DLW manufactures one engine every day, both diesel and electric. These engines are then exported to eleven countries.

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