Coal unions have called a strike from August 8 to August 10 over the delay in the formation of a panel on wages.
The strike call by five central trade unions comes at a time Coal India Ltd is struggling to increase production.
In a joint notice served to the chairmen of Coal India and Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL), leaders of the five central trade unions said they would go on a three-day strike if their demands, including one on a new wage agreement, were not met soon.
The workers’ unions alleged that the ministry of coal and the managements of Coal India and Singareni have been delaying the formation of the joint bipartite committee on wages. The earlier wage pact had expired on June 30.
However, R. Mohandas, Coal India director (personnel), said, “The joint bipartite committee for NCWA (IX) (National Coal Wage Agreement IX) could not be formed because of a problem within the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC). There is a breakaway group in the INTUC that wants a representation in the committee.
“We are in a dilemma whether to include representatives from both or one of the groups. Though it is a problem that the INTUC leadership has to sort out, we have convened a meeting on July 7 in New Delhi to iron out the differences pertaining to trade union representation in the committee,” he said.
The INTUC had the highest representation of six members out of 18 trade union representatives in the joint bipartite committee for the previous wage agreement. “Besides, there were three representatives each from the other four central trade unions,” Mohandas said. He, however, hoped that the committee could be formed soon.
Last time, the minimum basic wage for coal workers was increased to Rs 8,360, which was a 50 per cent rise from Rs 5,550 agreed upon in the earlier wage agreement. Coal India had to shoulder a burden of Rs 6,400 crore on account of a revision of wages (excluding the pay revision for officers) under the previous pact. However, this time the impact of wage revision is expected to be lower as Coal India has been able to trim its manpower significantly to 3,97,138 as of March 2010.
On whether Coal India might have to raise prices to absorb the wage revision impact, Mohandas said the management would first try to neutralise any adverse impact on its finances by increasing output.
Source : The Telegraph.