The labour unions of state-run Coal India Ltd have threatened to go on a five-day strike beginning 6 January for demands including roll-back of the process of denationalisation of coal sector and stopping disinvestment and restructuring of Coal India.The coal workers Coal India Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL) will observe five days all India strike with effect from January 6," five central trade unions --CITU, BMS, INTUC, HMS and AITUC--said in a joint statement.
The call for the strike exacerbates concerns about supplies from Coal India, the world's biggest coal miner which accounts for about 80 percent of India's output. The country uses coal to generate more than half of its electricity. The demands also includes extending National Coal Wage Agreement (NCWA) wages and other benefits to existing and prospective captive coal workers and lifting the ban on general recruitment.
Regularising contract workers engaged in mining jobs in underground as well as open cast mines is another demand.
Earlier, the proposed strike on November 24 by CIL employee unions was deferred after a meeting between Coal Ministry officials and trade unions.
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 10 per cent stake in Coal India Ltd (CIL), among others.
The firm often falls short of its output targets due to strikes, delays in getting permissions to expand mines and other bureaucratic hurdles, forcing India to import coal despite the fact that it is home to the world's fifth-largest coal reserve.
Five labour unions, including the one affiliated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, have planned a five-day strike from 6 January, said Jibon Roy, general secretary of the All India Coal Workers Federation.
Workers will also go on a separate strike on 13 January to press for better working conditions, including a five-day week with 35 hours of work, Roy said.
Last month, Coal India trade unions called off a planned strike in a move that seemed to set the stage for Modi to press ahead with energy reforms.
The government wants to sell the Coal India stake to meet its $9.5 billion annual divestment target. The move will help India trim its fiscal deficit.
The government in 2010 sold a 10 percent stake in Coal India, raising $3.4 billion in an initial public offer.