New Delhi/Kolkata, January 7: A five–day strike by lakhs of coal workers against privatisation entered the second day on Wednesday, with the industry seeking its end as power plants battled severe shortages. Even as unions claimed that more workers had joined the protest action in mines operated by Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries, industry associations called for talks between the government and the workers. The unions said they were in talks with the central government but there was seemingly no progress.
“We are trying to talk to the central government... Let us see what happens,” Basant Kumar Rai, a leader of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), told IANS. The BMS, affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is one of the major unions taking part in the strike that has hit hard production, particularly in mines of Coal India.
Another union leader, Jibon Roy, said more workers struck work on Wednesday. “The participation rate has increased. Yesterday (Tuesday) evening we had a word with the coal secretary but there was no breakthrough,” Roy from the CITU–affiliated All India Coal Workers Federation told IANS.
The industry urged the government and the unions to urgently settle the contentious issues. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) said the strike would only further dwindle fuel supply at a time several plants faced severe shortages.
Similarly, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Alok B. Shriram asked the unions to call off the strike against the government’s move to restructure Coal India. (IANS)