" The proposed disinvestment of $8.5 billion in CIL will help the centre lower down the fiscal deficit. The union government sold 10 percent stake in CIL in 2010 raising $3.4 billion."
Kolkata, Dec 18 - Five trade unions in state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) and Singareni Collieries Co (SCC) have called for a five-day strike beginning Jan 6 protesting against denationalisation of coal and disinvestment in the world's largest coal miner.

The decision followed the meeting of four trade unions operating in CIL and SCC in Ranchi, Jharkhand Wednesday. Post the meeting, the Left-backed All India Coal Workers Federation (AICWF) has extended its support to the scheduled strike.

Congress-backed Indian National Mineworkers Federation (INMFW), Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation, AITUC controlled Indian Mine Workers' Federation and the coal workers' union of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh apart from Left-backed AICWF will be participating in the strike which will involve over seven lakh of the labour force.

Despite a drastic reduction in permanent staff from the workforce, the centre is pressing for denationalisation of CIL, said AICWF general secretary Jibon Roy Thursday. The union has extended its support to the four unions and will hold a separate strike on Jan 13.

The trade unions were demanding scrapping of the enabling clause from the Coal Mines Ordinance 2014, which allows commercial mining by private firms and divestment of at least ten percent stake in CIL, among others.

The (coal) minister had previously promised to consult trade unions for further proceedings based on which we cancelled our previous strike on Nov 24 but passed the Coal Ordinance without any consultation, he added

Apart from the demand for withdrawal of process of denationalisation of coal sector and stopping disinvestment, restructuring of CIL the striking unions have demanded extension of National Coal Wage Agreement (NCWA) wages and other benefits to existing and prospective captive coal workers and lifting the ban on general recruitment.

We are pushing for the demand to implement a five days a week and 35 hours of weekly work schedule from the existing seven days a week and 56 hours a week work schedule, Roy said.

Also, unions have asked for improving amenities including free education for the children of workers upto class 12.

With the strike schedule in place, CIL alone is estimated to incur a revenue loss of Rs.1,000 crore including a production loss of about 6.5 million tonnes.

The proposed disinvestment of $8.5 billion in CIL will help the centre lower down the fiscal deficit. The union government sold 10 percent stake in CIL in 2010 raising $3.4 billion.

The trade unions are yet to officially communicate the strike proposal to CIL and SCC.


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