(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 17, 2011
Coalminers Prepare for Three Day Strike
M K Pandhe
The strike notice to the chairman of the Coal India Limited (CIL) was jointly served by Indian National Mine Workers Federation (INTUC), All India Coal Workers Federation (CITU), Indian Mine Workers Federation (AITUC), Akhil Bharatiya Khadan Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Akhil Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation (HMS).
The CIL management did not even convene a meeting of the Joint Bipartite Committee for Coal Industry to negotiate with the trade unions with a view to finding an amicable settlement of the charter of demands submitted by the coal industry unions.
The National Convention of Coal Unions, held at Ranchi on June 28, 2011, which was attended by more than 500 delegates from all the coal mines in the country, condemned the policy of the ministry of coal and the coal managements, and decided to observe a National Protest Day on July 18, 2011 by holding rallies and demonstrations all over the country.
The convention condemned the policy of disinvestment of 26 per cent shareholdings of the Coal India Ltd. Earlier, when the ministry of coal decided to disinvest 10 per cent of the Coal India’s shareholding, union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee gave a solemn assurance to all the unions in Coal India that there would be no further disinvestment so long as the UPA government was in power. The coal workers refused to take shares of the Coal India even though they were offered shares at concessional rates. All the unions denounced this violation of the assurance given by the union finance minister and decided to oppose the policy of disinvestment in the coal industry.
There has been a drastic reduction of manpower in the public sector coal mines. During the last decade, regular manpower came down from six and a half lakhs to less than four lakhs. The ban on recruitment imposed by the union coal ministry led to stoppage of fresh recruitment after retirement of coal workers due to superannuation. Women workers were forced to retire under the female voluntary retirement scheme (FVRS) by asking them to nominate a male representative from among the family members to work in the coal mines. Unfortunately, except the CITU, all the unions in coal industry accepted the FVRS, as a result of which employment of women came down from about one lakh to only 20 thousands. Attempts are being made to further reduce the female employment despite the union law ministry declaring that the FVRS is constitutionally invalid.
There is acute resentment prevailing in coal industry due to non-implementation of some clauses of the previous wage agreements. The unilateral interpretations of some of the clauses of these agreements are only adding to the accumulated discontent among the workers.
Downsizing of the regular manpower is
rampant in coal mines and the regular employees are being replaced by
labour at extremely low wage rates and in poor working conditions. It
estimated that nearly 40 per cent of coal production is being
through these contract labourers. In
Trade unions have demanded that the principle of equal wages for equal work should be implemented in coal industry in full and that the contract workers should be paid the same wages as regular employees in the industry. The government must also compel the private sector coal companies to pay the wages decided by the National Coal Wage Agreement so that the same wage rates are prevalent in the entire coal industry.
The neglect of underground coal production has
resulted in closing down of several underground coal mines despite huge
reserves existing in these mines. While indigenous coal mines are being
down, the CIL management has formed a joint venture company, called
to produce coal in
The government of
Illegal coal mining is rampant in the mines that have been closed down by the Coal India and Singareni Collieries. This is being done in broad daylight, with the connivance of the public sector coal mine officials, police and local administration. Several accidents occur in these coal mines but the Director General of Mines Safety rarely takes action against the operators of these illegal coal mines.
The decision of the government of
Thousands of tonnes of coal are getting burned in Jharia coal fields due to the fire in coal mines but the BCCL management has not taken any step to put an end to the fire. Similarly, livelihood of several workers is in danger due to subsidence in the Raniganj coal belt. Despite the Supreme Court directive, no measures have been taken by the Coal India to check the menace.
The dreaded disease of pneumoconiosis has affected a large number of coal miners but there is total failure on the part of coal managements to rehabilitate these affected workers. The workers are asked to take voluntary retirement and the managements disown the responsibility to ensure full rehabilitation of the victims of pneumoconiosis.
The safety in coal mines is sadly being
neglected, with the coal managements openly violating the safety rules.
mine disasters are taking place in coal mines off and on. The
The three day strike decision has
highlighted the legitimate grievances of coal workers and united
for the strike are going on all over Coal
The remarkable unity achieved by the entire
trade union movement in coal industry will make the strike complete.
of deduction of eight-day wages cannot deter the coal miners from going
with the united strike action all over