Coal India trade unions to hold talks with Centre Feb 16

Kolkata, Feb 5:

Five trade unions of state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) will meet a senior central government official in New Delhi Feb 16 to discuss the roadmap after the 10 percent privatisation of the coal behemoth, it was announced here Thursday.

COAL-INDIA“A meeting has been planned Feb 16 in New Delhi to decide on the further course of action,” INTUC-affiliated Indian National Mine Workers Federation secretary general S.Q. Zama told IANS of the meeting with coal ministry joint secretary Vivek Bhardwaj, which will also be attended by officials of CIL and Singareni Collieries Co Ltd (SCCL).

Before the meeting, the trade union officials will confer on the same day to deliberate on their common demands and goals.

“We will first meet internally to decide on common demands and way forward before our meeting with the government,” Zama said.

“It will be a long-term strategy and we may go for non-cooperation with the management (of CIL and Singareni Collieries Co Ltd) at every step which may result in production halt (strike)… but the decision will be taken only after Feb 16.”

Unions led by the Left-affiliated CITU and AITUC, the BJP-affiliated BMS and the International Trade Union Confederation-affiliated HMS will have one representative each, while Congress affiliated INTUC will have two representatives.

According to Zama, after Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) raised the privatisation cap for pubic sector undertakings to 25 percent, CIL’s recent offer-for-sale was imminent.

However, he complained that the joint-committee for coal comprising trade unions and government officials was not executed until late January whereby they felt “deceived” by the government.

Zama said in the first phase of the coal auctions, there isn’t visibly a possibility of commercialisation of coal, but it cannot be ruled out for the coming two other auction phases.

“It will be clear after our meeting with Bhardwaj, S. Bhattacharya (MD of CIL) and N. Sridhar (chairman of SCCL)”, he said.

The trade unions had not opted for strike so far post the disinvestment move. However, the five trade unions have amicably agreed to hold a “national protest” Feb 10 affecting CIL and SCCL.

“A nationwide protest has been planned whereby all trade unions of CIL and SCCL will participate to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s policies,” an official of CITU affiliated All India Coal Workers Federation told IANS.

The official said the central government is planning complete disinvestment in CIL which will result in lay-off of at least 50,000 permanent workers of CIL and SCCL over a course of 12 years.

“Around 10 lakh workers will participate in it but our aim is to increase it to one crore making the protest a social intervention programme…it will psychologically boost the worker’s morale,” he said.

He said CIL was a soft target for the central government. IANS

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