Strikes hurt India. Why is civil society not protesting?

Power sector will be on its knees due to coal strike and banks will deal a bad blow to people


Prahlad Rao | January 7, 2015 | New Delhi

Banks will hold the country to ransom for a week from January 24. Likewise, public-sector unit Coal India employees have struck work since Tuesday and are threatening to stay away for 10 days even as over 40 power units have less than seven days stock and of these 20 had less than four days of coal stock.

And yet no political leader or social activist has come out with a statement against these industrial actions that may slow down India’s progress and affect millions of voiceless common people.

Disregarding the consequences of their action a leader of coal union, shamelessly threatens to go on strike for 10 days. “The five-day strike, the largest industrial action by five major unions of Coal India, will be extended to 10 days," said SQ Zama, general secretary of the Indian National Mine Workers’ Federation, a wing of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).

Coal sector workers are agitating against permission for merchant mining and sale of coal in the open market. According to them these private mine owners do not pay minimum wages or ensure workers’ social welfare.

They are also demanding a reduction of weekly workdays from six to five, each of seven hours, social security for all workers including contract workers, compensation for land losers and peripheral development in mining areas.

All these demands are fair and can be resolved over a meeting with the management. In a globalised world, holding people for ransom and making them suffer do not make a worker’s case any strong. A new boss has taken over at Coal India and the unions should have waited to talk to him.

Reports said on Wednesday that all workers were not on strike, and that some coal is still being produced. “In the first shift of work yesterday that started at 6.00 am, 2.3 lakh tonnes of coal was produced by the company, which was 47% of the daily target for the shift. Though a continuation of the strike will worsen situations, the fact that some coal was being produced indicates that not all workers are participating in the strike,” a spokesperson of Coal India said.

Meanwhile, it is the duty of civil society to step in and stop these kinds of long and stifling industrial actions affecting the public.



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