Coal staff strike hits output at 75 pc mines

Coal staff strike hits output at 75 pc mines

About five lakh coal workers across the country on Tuesday went on a five-day strike, hitting 75 per cent production, including that of Coal India Ltd (CIL). The strike may also impact fuel supply to power plants.

Negotiations spanning over four hours till late in the national capital between government officials and union representatives failed to end the strike and the workers said they will continue the stir, which is being billed as the biggest industrial action since 1977.

“Out of the total production of 1.5 million tonnes a day, nearly 75 per cent has been hit,” a senior official said, adding that the union leaders were “adamant” on their stand.
The industrial action is in protest against ‘disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India’ and to press for demands including the rollback of what unions call “process of denationalising of coal sector”.

Asked whether a power crisis was imminent, Power Minister Goyal said, “I don’t think so.” The minister, who also holds Coal Ministry portfolio, indicated that he may meet union leaders on Wednesday.

Claiming that over five lakh coal industry workers across the country have gone off work, union leaders said they are open to negotiations at ‘political’ level, including with the prime minister or the coal minister.

On its first day itself, the strike is estimated to have caused production losses to the tune of Rs 70 crore in first two shifts on Tuesday, officials said.

The strike call has been given by all five leading trade unions of the country, including the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).

The Labour Ministry said in a statement that the strike has affected the working of CIL and its subsidiaries, as also the mines of Singareni Collieries Co Ltd.

The strike — joined by trade unions BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS — is also likely to affect fuel supply to power plants, which are already grappling with fuel shortages. CIL accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal production.

Coming out of late-night talks, Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) Secretary General S Q Zama said: “Negotiations at the secretary-level have failed, but we are open to discussions at political level, at the level of prime minister or coal minister.
“We did our best to arrive at an amicable solution, but the (coal) secretary has his own limitations. Around five lakh workers, including 3.5 lakh from CIL, are on strike.”

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