The coal workers’ strike was called off on Wednesday after a marathon six-hour meeting between labour unions and Union coal and power Minister Piyush Goyal, staving off the looming disruption in power supplies.
Goyal told HT: “A committee has been constituted to look into the grievances of the workers.” The government was never inclined for de-nationalisation of coal, he clarified.
More details were not available at the time of going to press.
BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS, the striking coal unions that represent over 340,000 coal workers, decided to end their strike after receiving assurances that the government would examine their demands.
“The strike has been called off, since the government has assured us to discuss with us the issues regarding workers,” said BK Roy a spokesperson for Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) coal workers.
The unions were opposed to allowing commercial mining of coal, which they claimed would have led to “denationalisation of coal mining” and disinvestment of the government stake in Coal India Ltd (CIL), which produces 80% of the country’s coal output.
These provisions were part of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014, for which the government re-promulgated an ordinance after opposition parties blocked the tabling of the Bill in Rajya Sabha.
The move became necessary after the Supreme Court in September 2014 declared the allocation of 204 coal mines by successive governments as illegal.
The trade unions are also opposed to disinvestment of government shares in CIL and allocation of coal blocks to CIL.
The five-day coal workers’ strike was in its second day on Wednesday. Out of the 100 coal-based power plants in the country, 42 had supplies of less than seven days left as on January 1, while 20 had coal stocks for up to four days only, according to the Central Electricity Authority.