Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal’s appeal to the trade unions of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) to give up the indefinite strike from July 3 had no effect on them. The Joint Action Council (JAC) of trade unions and officers’ associations views the Minister’s statement only as an explanatory note on Centre’s stand on disinvestment.

“The Coal Minister has issued only a clarification on the divestment move and has not offered a solution to the issue,” said S.Rajavanniyan, JAC convenor, indicating that the workers and officers are not reconsidering the decision to go on an indefinite strike.

He told TheHindu that Mr. Jaiswal’s statement that the Centre was under compulsion to make the NLC, a public sector undertaking, comply with the guidelines of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was only a reiteration of the divestment proposal.

“Citing the SEBI as the prime mover in the disinvestment episode is hardly convincing. PSUs like the NLC are under compulsion to abide by SEBI guidelines, whereas multinational companies and IT companies are let off the hook as they are neither bound by labour laws nor have any social obligations,” he said.

For over three decades, the NLC had been making profit and every year it was paying about Rs 1,000 crore to the Centre by way of dividends and taxes. Besides, the NLC was spending about Rs 20 crore a year on improving the livelihood in peripheral villages. Therefore, the statement issued by the Coal Minister has no any substance, he said, terming Mr. Jaiswal’s appeal as a routine exercise in the aftermath of trade unions issuing strike notice.

As the workers and officers were apprehensive that the divestment move was the first step towards privatisation, they have closed ranks to put up a joint fight, Mr. Rajavanniyan said. The NLC officers’ associations also see no merit in the Coal Minister’s appeal. A spokesperson of an officer’s association on anonymity said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had initially deferred the disinvestment proposal but later shifted its stand.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National