Whether one believes in the incredible hype that the Coal India offer for sale has generated or not, it seems more than likely that the stock will list at a substantial premium and a lot of people will make a good amount of money. Under the circumstances, it’s unfortunate that the one class of people who deserved to benefit the most from this bonanza didn’t participate. I’m talking, of course, of Coal India’s employees. One per cent of the R15,000-crore issue that was reserved for employees, no more than 10 per cent was used up.
Apparently, this was the result of a concerted campaign by the company’s unions against the issue. Because the unions were against disinvestment, they practically forbade their members from subscribing to the issue. Now, all that is left for the employees to do is to watch the stock list and ruefully count how much money they would have made had the unions allowed them to invest.
Even by the bizarre logic of the union’s leftist rhetoric, this ban on employees investing in the issue doesn’t make sense. The unions didn’t want disinvestment, fine. That’s a point of view. However, since they didn’t succeed in stopping the share sale, it is counterproductive, even from their point of view to prevent employees from subscribing to the issue.
Not only do the employees lose an opportunity to make money, but their unused quota goes to the very people (the QIBs, HNIs and the rest of the alphabet soup) whom the unions don’t want to own a slice of the company. If the government is going through the motions and rituals of capitalism to fill its coffers, the employees should also do so.