Coal India stake sale: Unions don’t want immediate strike

By: | Published: January 31, 2015 1:16 AM

Trade unions of the coal sector don’t want to launch an immediate strike, even as five trade unions of the sector came...

Trade unions of the coal sector don’t want to launch an immediate strike, even as five trade unions of the sector came together on Friday  to protest the Coal India stake sale.

Jibon Roy, general secretary of the CITU-backed All India Coal Workers’ Federation, said workers across the country had started sit-in demonstrations to protest the government’s decision to sell-off its stake in CIL, through which it plans to raise more than Rs 22,000 crore.

“We have sensitised at least 1 crore people across 38 districts of the country about the larger conspiracy behind the stake sale. Government bringing down holding is a step forward towards privatising the company and all the trade unions should come together to consolidate its strength for the big fight against the government,” Roy said, adding that a strike would not be useful to resist the government’s move at present.

The trade unions are mainly opposed to the Coal Mine Ordinance of 2014, which allows commercial mining by private companies. “We should formulate our movement by keeping the big picture in front of us. All the five trade unions — BMS, CITU, AITUC, INTUC and HMS — would soon hold a meeting to discuss the future course of action,” Roy said.

The trade unions started a five-day strike on January 6, but withdrew on the third day after meetings coal secretary Anil Swarup, and coal and power minister Piyush Goyal.

Although SQ Zama of INTUC said the government’s plan of offering equity in the open market and conduct a one-day sale was not known to trade unions and it was a breach of trust, Roy felt this would not go down well with the people, especially those who are not coal sector workers, because people would think that the trade unions have come to a settlement with the government and facilitated the stake sale.

Baij Nath Rai of the BMS, however, said he was eager to strike work and said a national executive meeting of the BMS would take place in Bhopal next month, and that there they would decide on this issue.

He, however, made it clear that all trade unions would go together against the government decision of allowing private firms to mine. Although trade unions claimed that mine workers participated in the protest, there was no disruption of mining activities in any of the CIL mines, a company insider said. CIL refused to give any official comment on the issue.

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