Coal strike called off after assurance of no privatisation

January 8, 2015
Delhi, Latest News, National
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New Delhi: Coal workers on Thursday night called off their nationwide strike after two days, as the government assured trade unions that the state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) will not be privatised and the employees’ interest will be protected.

In two days, the strike caused production loss of an estimated Rs 300 crore with over 75 per cent of the daily 1.5 million tonnes a day output taking a hit. There were also apprehensions that a prolonged strike could lead to a possible electricity crisis, if nearly 100 thermal power plants ran out of fuel supplies.

Nearly five lakh coal workers had gone on a strike yesterday after five major trade unions, including BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, gave a call for the biggest ever industrial action in four decades against what they called the attempts for “disinvestment in Coal India and denationalisation of coal mining”.

“There is no intention for denationalisation of 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,” Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after an over six-hour-long marathon meeting with the trade union leaders.

CIL Chairman Suthirtha Bhattacharya also said that the strike has been called off with immediate effect. CIL produces coal for nearly 80 per cent of the country’s requirement.

The five-day strike was called off midway after Goyal assured the union leaders that the government will look into their concerns and will form a committee, headed by a Joint Secretary, that will have representation from all five trade unions and officials of CIL and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd.

“The strike has been called off,” AITUC leader Lakhan Lal Mahato said after the meeting.

Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) President Rajendra Singh also confirmed that the strike has ended.  The talks resumed today between the government and the trade unions, after a meeting called by Coal Secretary Anil Swarup failed to yield any positive results last night.  There were reports of clashes between workers and police in Jharkhand and West Bengal earlier in the day.

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