People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 47

November 30, 2008



THE All India Coal Workers Federation (CITU) has called upon the coal-miners all over the country to stage a nationwide 48 hours strike in coal industry on December 18-19, 2008. The Federation has taken this decision because of the inordinate delay in commencing the bipartite negotiation for revision of wages for the workers which has fallen long overdue; to force a decisive halt to the dubious game plan of the authorities concerned and the ministry to impose 10 years tenure for wage agreement in coal industry despite government’s acceptance of the unanimous demand of the entire trade union movement for five year tenure that was conveyed through concerned DPE guidelines; because of the nonchalant move of the government and the Coal India management in gifting away coal-blocks to private hands, despite total opposition by the entire trade union movement and in utter violation of Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act and because of the drastic reduction in the regular workforce in the coal industry through mass scale contractorisation and outsourcing.

The rampant hiving off of coal blocks for private exploration is aimed at gradual privatisation of entire coal mining operation which was nationalised long back to save the precious natural resources from the loot and destruction by the private operators. This is also aimed at suppressing the wages of the workers. Workers employed in these private coal blocks are being paid a pittance for 12 hours of work, much below the statutory minimum wages, not to speak of the minimum wages available for the workers in public sector coal mines. This exposes a sinister design of the Coal India management and the ministry concerned to suppress the wages of the regular workers in public sector coal mines and also to reduce the regular workforce through reckless contractorisation and outsourcing.

Despite the seventh round wage revision for the coal workers has fallen over due for more than two years, the Coal India management is yet to commence meaningful negotiation and the bipartite forum-the JBCCI is being sought to be made defunct by the management with tacit support from the ministry. Instead, the management is still insisting for a ten-year tenure for the next wage agreement, although the government has already conveyed its official acceptance to the demand of the unions for a five-year tenure. Not only that, instead of dealing the issue in the bipartite forum, the management, including the minister himself has taken personal initiative to publicly indulge in flaring up narrow sectional interests and engineer a split in the unanimous opinion of the overwhelming majority of the workers and all the trade unions. Such

disruptive steps on the part of management and the ministry is condemnable and unheard of in the arena of industrial relations management.

All the trade unions and federations of all affiliations functioning in coal industry have already conveyed to the minister of state for Coal on November 18, 2008 in clear terms that they firmly stand for five year tenure for the coal workers’ wage agreement and they demanded finalisation of the agreement by the end of this year.

The All India Coal Workers’ Federation (CITU) demands the government to

  1. Immediately commence meaningful wage negotiation for the coal workers based on the principle of five year’s tenure and restoring relativity/differential between the pay scale/wage level of the workers and the officers to pre-1997 level. The agreement should be finalised by the end of the year.

  2. Bring all coal mine workers including those under private sector and contractors into the ambit of the National Coal Workers’ Wage Agreement (NCWA) statutorily, pending their bringing back under public sector control.

  3. Pending regularisation, contract workers should be paid the minimum wage of the coal workers under Coal India Ltd.

  4. Stop outsourcing and handing over coal blocks to private hands. Scrap Coal Regulatory Authority and bring all coal-mines under Coal India Ltd.

The AICWF appeals all the trade unions and federations functioning in coal industry irrespective of their affiliation to join hands and fight back unitedly the nefarious game plan of the Coal India management through countrywide strike action. The Federation also appeals for a joint dialogue in the matter and is open to marginal adjustment on dates if required. It also calls upon the coal workers irrespective of their affiliation to come forward unitedly and make the two day strike in coal industry a massive success.