Coal India trade unions have begun a three-day strike beginning Thursday as they protest against the government's decision to allow commercial coal mining in the country.
Coal India trade unions have begun a three-day strike beginning Thursday as they protest against the government’s decision to allow commercial coal mining in the country. The three-day long halt in operations is likely to hit around four million tonnes of production, PTI reported. The strike has been effective since the first shift which begins at 6 AM, Nathulal Pandey, president of HMS-affiliated Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation said. The coal mining company produces 1.3 million tonnes (MT) of coal every day, and since the strike will go on for three days, it is estimated that the production loss will be to the tune of 4 million tonnes, Nathulal Pandey said.
Why are trade unions protesting against commercial mining?
In 1973, the government had regulated the wages and services condition of coal miners to save them from exploitation by way of nationalisation. However, commercial coal mining puts them at the risk again. “If commercial mining is started by private companies, they will certainly exploit the workers by paying less wages and the workers have to work in substandard working conditions,” Nathulal Pandey said. However, the government said that there were no plans in place to either divest the PSU or hive off Coal India arm CMPDIL.
Coal India accounts for 80% of India’s domestic coal output and the BJP government had recently set an ambitious target of one billion tonnes of coal output for Coal India (CIL). On Wednesday, representatives of the trade unions and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi had a virtual meeting to discuss the issue of commercial coal mining. “During the meeting, the Minister informed the unions that commercial mining is policy decision of Central Government. Minister said that this is the only way to increase the production of coal,” Nathulal Pandey said, the news agency quoted. The talks were not fruitful and the minister refused to accept the demand of unions to withdraw the decision of commercial mining.
Meanwhile, five persons who were on strike have been arrested in the Jhanjra area of Eastern Coalfields.