Hyderabad/Kothagudem: Civil rights organisations have come out in support of the ongoing strike by India's coal workers including those of Singareni Collieries against the central governent's decision to auction 41 coal blocks to private companies.
India's trade unions demanding cancellation of the bidding process for 41 coal blocks began a 72-hour strike on July 2, affecting coal production across the country.
The unions are demanding cancellation of 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in coal mining and a stop to privatisation and commercial mining in the name of outsourcing.
In Telangana, workers of Singareni Collieries went on a one-day strike opposing the central government decision. The strike hit production of one lakh tons of coal production in mines in Sattupalli, Kothagudem, Manuguru and Koyagudem in Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts on Thursday.
Above 2000 miners and workers of different trade unions participated in the strike and trade unions like Telangana Boggu Gani Karmika Sangham, CITU, AITUC, INTUC and IFTU staged a dharna in front of coal mines in Kothagudem.
CPI leader Bagam Hemant Rao said the government wants to lay off workers in public sector units. “The workforce of SCCL for instance has come down to 48,000 from 1.10 lakh. Privatisation of coal blocks will earn more profits for private companies at the cost of workers.”
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, I. Krishna, state secretary of the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), said, "If we really want to become self-reliant, then rather than privatising coal mines and allowing FDI, the government should re-think its strategy and strengthen the core public sector.”
Prime minister Narendra Modi launched the auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining on June 19 saying the market for the commodity would help turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity.
During the launch, Modi said that the auction process not only marks the beginning of the unlocking of the country’s coal sector from a ‘lockdown of decades’ but aims at making India the largest exporter of coal.
The Civil Liberties Committee has extended its support to the 72-hour strike. The Telangana Praja Front said that in the name of COVID-19, the government is trying to subvert labour laws, extending working hours and paying only half salary to workers.
“The TRS government came to power by wooing coal mine workers. Rather than opposing the central government’s privatising of coal mines, in a way Chief Minister, Rao, is supporting it. We demand that he oppose it in the same manner he did with the electricity amendment bill, 2020,” said K. Ravi Chander, president of Telangana Praja Front....