The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday without discussion amid continuing protests
Employees of public sector general insurance (PSGI) companies are observing nationwide one-day strikes on Wednesday to protest against the intended privatisation of state-owned insurers.
The Joint Front of Trade Unions in PSGI companies met on Monday and decided to protest against the decision of government to privatise PSGI companies.
The unions have given a call for a one-day strike against the passage of the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill 2021 in the Lok Sabha, General Insurance Employees All India Association general secretary K Govindan said.
Employees of all four PSGI companies are participating in the day-long strike, he said.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday without discussion amid continuing protests by opposition parties on the Pegasus snooping and other issues.
The bill is scheduled to come up for discussion and passage in the Rajya Sabha later in the day.
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 percent 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 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 claim settlement, it said.
In the years 2020 and 2021 penalties were imposed against private insurance companies only and the number of grievances registered against private insurance companies was 82 per cent as against 18 per cent against public sector insurance companies, AIIEA said.
Meanwhile, the bank officers' union All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) has extended support to strike calls. Besides, All India Bank Employees Association has also given moral support.
Speaking on this, AIBOC general secretary Soumya Datta said our union would extend solidarity to the strike call given by the insurance union against the proposed privatisation drive.
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 at the time.
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.