Coal workers’ nationwide strike enters 2nd day after talks with unions fail

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New Delhi | Published: January 7, 2015 11:22:00 AM

The five-day strike by coal industry workers across the country entered its second day today as negotiations between government...

Coal India, Coal strike, coal workers strikeHuge numbers staffs of Coal India Limited shout slogans during a protest for their demands at Coal India head office in Kolkata on Tuesday. (PTI)

The five-day strike by coal industry workers across the country entered its second day today as negotiations between government officials and trade unions failed late last night.

On its first day, the strike impacted 75 per cent of the 1.5 million tonnes of daily coal production, while fuel supplies to nearly 100 power plants across the country may also be impacted if the impasse continues.

Unions said nearly 5 lakh workers, including those of Coal India, have joined the strike.

“We are united and continue our strike on the second day,” Indian National Mine Workers’ Federation (INTUC) Secretary General S Q Zama told PTI, adding “we will continue with the strike till January 10.”

However, the unions — whose negotiations with Coal Secretary Anil Swarup failed yesterday — are open for talks with Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal or Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We don’t have any information about the meeting of the trade unions with the Coal Minister but we are available and open for discussions both with the Coal Minister and Prime Minister,” Zama said.

A senior Coal India official told PTI that workers will launch the protest more “aggressively” from today.

About 5 lakh coal workers across the country went on a five-day strike yesterday which is being billed as the biggest industrial action since 1977.

The industrial action is in protest of “disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India” and press for demands, including the roll-back of what unions call “process of denationalising of coal sector.”

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

The strike, joined by all five major trade unions – BJP-backed BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS — is also likely to affect fuel supply to power plants.

CIL accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal production.

“Negotiations at the secretary level have failed but we are open for 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,” Zama had said late last night.

CIL Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya, who assumed charge on Monday, had said he is hopeful that the situation would be resolved in an amicable manner.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh MoS for Power, Yasar Shah said the state may face electricity crisis if the strike by Coal India extends longer.

The Minister, however, said all arrangements have been made to tackle expected crisis and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is monitoring the situation.

Shah said considering possible shortage of coal in Paricha and Harduaganj thermal power plants, fuel from other places is being diverted to these two units.

He said the state government and power department are in regular contact with top officials of Coal India and are monitoring the situation.

The state has requested the Centre not to let the strike extend longer, he added.

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