5-day coal strike to hit power generation

Tuesday, 06 January 2015 07:34 Pradeep B

Coal strikePower generation will be hit as all the five major trade unions representing some 3.5 lakh workers of Coal India go on a five-day strike from Today to protest against to protest the government's decision to enact the Coal Mines Ordinance 2014, which allows commercial mining by private companies and divestment of at least a 10 per cent stake in the public sector miner.

The strike comes after the unions, including ruling BJP's labour wing Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS boycotted a meeting called by coal and power minister Piyush Goyal on January 3. The five unions represent 3.5 lakh permanent workers and 2 lakh temporary employees.

Bank unions are also going on a day-long strike on January 7 to press for higher wages.

The Coal India strike call was deferred in November after a meeting between coal ministry officials and union representatives. The strike comes as a test by fire for Sutirtha Bhattacharya, a 1985 batch IAS officer, who took over as full-time chairman of Coal India on Monday.

The strike could lead to a production loss of 1.5 million tonne per day. Though Coal India has been pushing out extra wagon-loads to power plants for some days now, these additional supplies are insufficient as power plants are already running low on stocks.

Coal India has been despatching 225 rakes a day over the past few days against 207, each carrying about 4,000 tonnes of coal. But generators still expect the effect of the strike to linger due to backlog. According to Central Electricity Authority data, 20 thermal power plants have coal available for less than four days as on January 1.

Meanwhile, electricity workers union EEFI has extended support to the strike call.

"Electricity Employees Federation of India conveys solidarity to united struggle of coal workers to protect the interest of people of India as well coal workers," EEFI General Secretary Prasanta N Chowdhury said.

Electricity workers will organise agitation and demonstration all over the country to impress upon the government to drop the path of confrontation with "the workers to appease the capitalists through reintroduction of slavery in the quest of cheap labour", the Federation said in a statement.

Chowdhury claimed that there were about three lakh workers associated with the Federation across the country.

The union said that Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014 introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19 is another similar step to "curb the right to electricity of people of India making broad way for private capitalists in power sector towards super profit without investment".

Source - TOI