People's Democracy

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


No. 46

November 17, 2013






Workers Resist Govt’s Dismantling Design


R P Singh


HARDLY a month has elapsed when five central trade unions federations had deferred their decision for a three-day strike. In the meantime, however, officials of the Deloitte, a multinational, have invaded the headquarters of the CMPDIL and CCL --- two of the subsidiaries of Coal India Limited (CIL) --- to suggest to the government of India “a road map for smooth transition towards proposed restructuring.’’ The object is to dismantle the Coal India Limited and separate all its subsidiaries --- the Eastern Coalfields Limited (West Bengal), Central Coalfields Limited, Bharat Coking Coal Limited, Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited (Jharkhand), Western Coalfields Limited (Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh), South Eastern Coalfields Limited (Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh), Northern Coalfields Limited (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (Odisha).


On October 23, 2013, immediately after getting information about the visit of Deloitte officials to CCL & CMPDIL at Ranchi from October 28 to November 1, the NCOEA (CITU) initiated resistance activities by convening a meeting of all the trade unions working there in its office at Ranchi.


The CITU started the first phase of its resistance on October 25 with a massive mass meeting of Coal Worker at CCL and CMPDIL headquarters, with workers wearing black badges. The meeting adopted a resolution, deciding to all out oppose the visit of Deloitte officials. Demonstrations were staged in front of the CMPDIL offices at Nagpur, Bhubaneswar and Bilaspur as well as camp offices. Gate meetings and pit meetings were held and the effigies of Deloitte and the government were burnt at the CCL project headquarters and collieries at Piperwar, North Karanpura, Bhurkunda, Sayal, Urimari, Kathara, Jairangdih open and underground mines, Swang Washary, Swang Excavation, Govindpur, Khasmahal projects, Dhori and Hazaribagh area office etc. The unions were agitating on three slogans --- that the Deloitte must go back, move to dismantle the CIL must stop, and disinvestment of CIL must stop.


These slogans of the struggle gathered momentum and were immediately popular among the workers and employees. The CCL & CMPDIL headquarters were flooded with posters. On October 25, workers called for an all-out protest and banning of Deloitte officials’ entry in the premises. Subsequently, on October 29 and 31, all sections of the workers and employees demonstrated before the CMD’s office with slogans, made a human chain, waved black flags and surrounded the office. The rank and file members of the unions voluntarily came forward and participated in sticking posters and conducting mass contacts programmes etc. workers of the NCOEA (CITU) physically prevented the entry of Deloitte officials in the CMPDI headquarters.


One may note that Deloitte, a US based consultancy company, was appointed through a global tender to suggest easiest ways to dismantle the coal companies of India in the name of “restructuring.” The object is to force the Coal India to go in joint ventures with private companies and ultimately sell them out to private operators.


This was the third major attempt by the government of India to privatise the coal sector and hand over the non-renewable natural resource of energy to the private sector.  


The Coal Mines Nationalisation (Amendment) Bill 2000 was introduced in Rajya Sabha in April 2000 but the government had to step back due to an indefinite strike call jointly given by all the trade union organisations. The first Group of Ministers (GOM) was constituted to sort out the issues with the trade unions in 2001, which decided that till a final decision was taken, the said amendment bill would not be taken up for consideration in the parliament. In 2004, it was again decided that the bill would not be moved in the parliament without arriving at a consensus with the trade unions. Also, the Energy Coordination Committee endorsed the idea that the bill could be moved only after a consensus was arrived at. The present GOM under the chairmanship of the finance minister was constituted in August 2009 to further carry forward the dialogue with the trade unions.


However, the government started moves aimed at privatisation through the backdoor. Allocation of coal blocks to private parties started in a huge way. Though there were provisions for allocation of coal blocks in the Act for captive use since 1976, but floodgates were open for it from 2005 when the government failed in its attempt to push the coal amendment bill through in parliament. Up to 2011, 298 coal blocks were allotted for captive consumption though only 26 of them became operational. However, as we know, Criminal irregularities and huge scams surfaced in the allocation of coal blocks.


And then came the five-point coal reform policy of the government:


(1) Setting up of a Coal Regulatory Authority;

(2) Switching over to GCV based grading system;

(3) More autonomy to the government owned coal companies;

(4) Signing of long term fuel agreements; and

(5) Allowing coal mining by the private sector.

This was what the minister of state for coal, Pratik Prakashbapu, Patil, stated in a written reply in Lok Sabha on May 9, 2012.


As a part of this reform policy in which dismantling of the CIL is a priority, the coal ministry in December 2012 informed the PMO regarding appointment of “consultants with international expertise” and determination of a timeframe for restructuring of the CIL. Accordingly, international bids were invited in January 2013 and by early February, the government received 17 applications from foreign companies like McKinsey, KPMG, Ernst and Young, Deloitte and CRISIL. The government short-listed nine out of these nine foreign companies in May and decided to finalise the consultants by June 2013. The consultants are to submit plans including advice to the coal ministry on the terms of reference: to improve the efficacy of the “current management structure” of the CIL, “to ascertain the drawbacks inherent in a monopolistic situation,” and to “assess the need for evolving administrative structures, which would improve production and marketing with a special emphasis on customer satisfaction.


Accordingly, Deloitte, the US based company, was appointed by the government of India to suggest ways for disintegration of the Coal India Ltd and for separation of all its subsidiaries.


To the trade union organisations, it means an attack on the CIL, a major public sector coal company, and the loot of valuable natural resources in the energy sector, and the coal workers are determined to resist the move without giving the government any quarter.