CITU protests Coal India disinvestment plan

Kolkata, Aug 18 (IANS) The Centre reportedly mulling disinvestment in the state-owned Coal India has triggered protest demonstrations by Left-backed CITU, even as the Congress-backed INTUC is yet to take a call on the matter.

“Demonstrations are taking place daily in Central Coalfields Ltd. and Eastern Coalfields Ltd. and the protest is spreading rapidly to other units of Coal India,” Jibon Roy, general secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)-affiliated All India Coal Workers Federation, told IANS on Tuesday.

Both these companies are subsidiaries of the Coal India.

He said his union would join a nationwide general strike scheduled for September 2 and continue with the protests and demonstrations. INTUC too plans to participate in the strike.

So far, the union hasn’t opted for a full-scale industrial strike in any of the units or subsidiary companies of the world’s largest coal miner.

“The central government is opting for development at the cost of labourers. The disinvestment move will further reduce wages of local workers and result in further exploitation,” the union leader said.

Terming the move “partial fascism”, Roy said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was yet to understand the problems of labourers in India before undertaking any privatisation of public enterprises or amend labour laws.

He alleged that the government was considering a new labour law by clubbing the Labour Law of 1926 and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which will protect the interests of private companies and curb labour rights.

However, S.Q. Zama, secretary general of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)- affiliated Indian National Mine Workers Federation said he was in the process of collecting more information about the disinvestment proposal from the Centre and act accordingly.

“I have sought more information from the government and sent a letter to union minister Piyush Goyal about our concerns. We are opposing the disinvestment move nevertheless,” he told IANS.

“If need be, we have to protest jointly, as we did in January,” he said.

In January, the Centre had diluted 10 percent stake in the company.

According to Zama, the disinvestment move will further dilute the company’s position.

“If so much disinvestment occurs and coal mines are allotted to states, how will Coal India meet its output target,” he asked.

He said INTUC too would join the general strike called for September 2.

Meanwhile, company officials said there were not production losses and operations were normal despite the protests.

“There have been instances of demonstrations but there has been no loss of production,” a company official told IANS.

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