CIL divestment: Trade unions defer strike plan

Written by Raj Kumar Ray | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 20 2013, 09:21am hrs
In a reprieve for the government ahead of the proposed stake sale in Coal India, the trade unions have deferred their strike proposed earlier between December 17-19.

The next course of action will be decided at a meeting convened on November 29 in Asansol, Ramendra Kumar, secretary of Indian Mine Workers Federation, told FE.

While asserting that unions representing 3.57 lakh workers were still opposed to any disinvestment, Kumar said "We had earlier decided that the strike will be on December 17-19. That is being deferred. We will decide on the strike date at the coal convention on November 29.

Though Kumar cited a national trade union protest in Delhi as the main reason for the deferment, there has been some disagreement among the unions with the Congress-backed INTUC going soft over the strike call.

Coal India is holding road shows for a 5% stake through the offer for sale route, which may help the government raise R8,000-10,000 crore. A similar amount may also be raised through CIL's buyback of another 5% from the government. Stake sales in CIL and Indian Oil are crucial for the government to meet its R55,814 crore target for 2013-14.

The government has so far raised R1,325 crore from disinvestment in MMTC, Hindustan Copper, National Fertiliser, ITDC, State Trading Corp and Neyveli Lignite.

The department of disinvestment has also lined up Power Grid, NHPC and Engineers India for disinvestment in 2013-14.

CIL recently held road shows abroad to woo potential foreign investors for its disinvestment but the government is yet to fix a date for the stake sale after trade unions threatened to stop the move with their strike call.

After a series of meeting in July, the coal ministry claimed it has persuaded trade unions to allow a 5% stake sale and another 5% buyback by the PSU without any disruption in production. But the Indian Mine Workers Federation, affiliated to the left-leaning All India Trade Union Congress, along with Citu and BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh are unlikely to softened their stance.

Apart from disinvestment, trade unions are also against the proposed restructuring of CIL and violation of labour laws for contract workers, Kumar said.