Following trade unions’ withdrawal of strike at Coal India upon an assurance from the government that the firm’s majority ownership and management will remain with it and that there is no plan to “denationalise” the firm, lakhs of workers on Thursday returned to work at the PSU’s mining sites. Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya said the production loss due to the strike that lasted for two days could be in the range of a million tonne and this would be made up shortly. He added that the proposed disinvestment in the company, which is expected to fetch the fiscally stressed Centre a good Rs 22,500 crore this fiscal, is on track. The follow-on public offer, he said, is also complying with Sebi norms.
Power minister Piyush Goyal who got the five trade unions, which had jointly organised the strike, to call it off late on Wednesday after marathon talks with them, later said there was no intention of denationalising CIL. “The present and future interest of CIL employees will not be affected in any manner. CIL will be protected and there need be no apprehension about its ownership or management going into private hands.”
On Thursday, the minister told mediapersons: “They (unions) have assured me they will be part of mission 100 crore tonne (targeted production by 2019-20) and that they will make up for the loss of production of about a million tonne.”
According to company officials, production at the country’s largest coal producer was in “full swing” at the first shift on Thursday. “We are still collating data but yes, production has resumed at our mines,” PTI reported quoting a company official. Workers reported for work from the third shift on Wednesday night as soon as the strike was called off. “We will gear up resources to make up for the deficit during the shutdown. We are confident our production target of 507 million tonne for this fiscal will be achieved,” the official said.
Late on Wednesday night, the unions’ announced their decision to call off what was billed as the biggest industrial strike in four decades. The call was given by five trade unions including the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh affiliated to the BJP.
Goyal also assured union leaders the government will address workers’ concerns and will form a committee, headed by a joint secretary in the coal ministry for this purpose.