There was confusion over the proposed three-day strike in Coal India Ltd.’s mines over the government’s proposed move to disinvest five per cent of its present 90 per cent shareholding.

The strike proposed to be held from December 17 to 19at a time when the CIL has lost 15 million kg of production, mainly due to Cyclone Phailin and labour agitations at Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd.

Confusion arose as at least one of the major Left trade unions, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), said the agitation programme might be deferred in view of the wider agitation programme in New Delhi on December 12 to protest price rise, disinvestment from public sector units and to press for a minimum wage of Rs. 10,000. “We will hold a discussion on this matter once all the leaders meet in New Delhi during the December 12 rally,” an AITUC office bearer said.

However, Jibon Roy, general secretary of the All India Coal Workers’ Federation (AICWF) general secretary, an affiliate of the Centre for India Trade Unions, said his organisation stood by the decision on a nationwide coal strike. All the five major trade unions, he said, had decided to call the strike.

The unions seem to have softened their stand in view of what they see as a deferment of the government’s plans on a further five per cent divestment of its equity holding in the CIL. The matter was discussed at a meeting presided by the Prime Minister in New Delhi on Tuesday.