Fluoride Action Network

BALCO unions seek PM’s intervention to bail out local players

Source: The Economic Times | December 29th, 2015 | By PTI
Location: India
Industry type: Aluminum Industry

NEW DELHI: Already hit by more than 1,000 job cuts at Vedanta Group company Balco’s Chhattisgarh unit, the company’s trade unions have approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help bail out local aluminium makers from cheaper imports from China.

After BALCO shut its rolling mill in Chhattisgarh leading to 1,000 job cuts citing economic unviability, its major trade bodies including those affiliated with INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS have submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister seeking protection under ‘Make in India’ drive to revive the sector.

The unions have demanded hike in import duty on aluminium apart from bauxite and coal linkages to aluminium makers.

Government holds 49 per cent stake in BALCO, which in August shut its rolling mill citing slump in global price of aluminium and rise in input cost.

The union leaders have threatened to stage a protest in New Delhi, if the government doesn’t step in to save jobs and future of more than 2 lakh people whose livelihood depends on BALCO.

Earlier, the Company had forgone its Golden Jubilee celebrations as the unions did not allow it as a protest against massive job cuts.

Vedanta Aluminium Business CEO Abhijit Pati, “The crash in LME prices and continued imports from China and Middle East is making aluminium production economically unviable and we are forced to close down the uneconomical units. This bitter pill has to be swallowed.”

Right now around 56 per cent of domestic aluminium consumption in India is being met by cheap imports, while 51 per cent of India’s aluminium production capacity is lying idle owing to severe losses caused by reduced margins for Indian makers.

The Unions in the letter to the Prime Minister have said that China was making all facilities available to its domestic producers and there should be immediate steps to protect domestic aluminium makers.

Global aluminium price at London Metal Exchange has fallen 37 per cent in the last one year leading to safeguard measures by producers globally.

The Aluminium Association of India has proposed increasing the custom duty for aluminium metal to 10 per cent from 5 per cent besides decrease in custom duty of alumina and aluminium fluoride.

Supporting the Aluminium Association of India’s demands BALCO workers and employees unions have requested the government to initiate immediate action so that investment made in capacity expansion by Indian aluminium makers to support Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ campaign is saved, leading to lakhs of job losses.