The plan for a three-day strike in the mines of Coal India Ltd. (CIL) from September 23, to protest, among other things, against the proposed divestment, has been pushed back by three months by the central trade unions, which seem to have been placated with the settlement of two pending service-related issues.
Although the five central trade unions had given the strike call to mainly voice their opposition to the proposed second dose of divestment of a part of the Centre’s holdings in CIL, they agreed to defer their strike programme till mid-December. But they did so only after extracting promises from the CIL management on a few crucial issues. Indications are that the unions are now reconciled to the 5 per cent divestment.
The ‘takeaways’ include giving employment to the dependent sons of female-workers opting for voluntary retirement. This matter was pending for ten years.
“The management agreed in principle to the proposal. It will now have to be operationalised through a scheme,’’ a senior executive said.
CIL has also agreed to give post-retirement medical benefits to workers and their spouses at certain designated medical facilities against the present practice of extending this benefit only in CIL hospitals.
“Our opposition to stake sale and proposed restructuring is still there. But we are aware of the economic situation of the country, and, hence, we are deferring the strike,” S. Q. Zama, secretary-general of the Indian National Mineworkers Federation (affiliated to INTUC), said. “We do not want to spoil the investors’ mood at this moment,” he added. The government had initially proposed a 10 per cent disinvestment in CIL, but later halved it.