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Coal India workers' nationwide strike enters second day as negotiations fail

Coal Unions said nearly 5 lakh workers, including those of Coal India, have joined the strike, which is being billed as the biggest industrial action since 1977.

twitter-logoPTI | January 7, 2015 | Updated 12:51 IST
Coal India workers' strike enters second day
(Photo: Reuters)

The five-day strike by coal industry workers across the country entered its second day on Wednesday as negotiations between government officials and trade unions failed late on Tuesday night.

On its first day, the strike impacted 75 per cent of the 1.5 million tonnes of daily coal production, while fuel supplies to nearly 100 power plants across the country may also be impacted if the impasse continues.

Coal Unions said nearly 5 lakh workers, including those of Coal India (CIL), have joined the strike, which is being billed as the biggest industrial action since 1977.

"We are united and continue our strike on the second day," Indian National Mine Workers' Federation (INTUC) Secretary General S Q Zama told PTI, adding, "We will continue with the strike till January 10."

However, the unions - whose negotiations with Coal Secretary Anil Swarup failed on Tuesday - are open for talks with Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal or Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"We don't have any information about the meeting of the trade unions with the Coal Minister but we are available and open for discussions both with the Coal Minister and Prime Minister," Zama said.

"We did our best to arrive at an amicable solution but the (Coal) Secretary has his own limitations. Around five lakh workers, including 3.5 lakh from CIL, are on strike," Zama had said late on Tuesday night.

CIL Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya, who assumed charge on Monday, had said he is hopeful that the situation would be resolved in an amicable manner.

State-run miner Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal production.

A senior CIL official told PTI that workers will launch the protest more "aggressively" from Wednesday.

The strike call has been given by all five leading trade unions of the country - Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Confederation of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Hind Mazdoor Sangh (HMS).

The industrial action is in protest of "disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India" and press for demands, including the roll-back of what unions call "process of denationalising of coal sector."

The strike, joined by all five major trade unions is also likely to affect fuel supply to power plants.

The Uttar Pradesh MoS for Power, Yasar Shah said the state may face electricity crisis if the strike by coal workers extended longer.

The Minister, however, said all arrangements had been made to tackle expected crisis and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was monitoring the situation.

Shah said considering possible shortage of coal in Paricha and Harduaganj thermal power plants, fuel from other places was being diverted to these two units.

The minister said the state government and power department are in regular contact with top officials of Coal India and are monitoring the situation.

The state has requested the Centre not to let the strike extend longer, Shah added.

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