Saturday, January 30, 2016

While all the five central trade unions — INTUC, BMS, AITUC, CITU and HMS — have agreed on a four-day ‘work to rule agitation’ in March demanding withdrawal of disinvestment in the state-owned Coal India, four of them have come to a consensus on one-day strike across the country on March 29.

BMS wants to be out of the strike because the coal ministry was already in negotiations with the trade unions relating to workers’ demands. BMS was also not against the government’s proposal of disinvestment since disinvestment at the current stage did not mean denationalisation, PK Dutta of Khadan Mazdoor Sangh, the BMS-backed trade union, said.

“All trade unions are in favour of a ‘work to rule agitation’ and this is likely to take place between March 7 and March 10,” Dutta said.

Work to rule is an action in which employees keep their work limited to the rules of contract. Workers may only follow the safety measures and slow down the process of work instead of going on an all-out strike.

The decision for a ‘work to rule agitation’ came after the five trade unions met at Nagpur to review their status of demand. While all the trade unions agreed that the demands of the trade unions have not yet been accepted, BMS felt that the demands of the trade unions though not yet conceded, the matter was in process. So they were eager in a softer form of agitation than going for an all-out strike.

Jibon Roy of the CITU backed All India Coal Workers Federatrion said BMS was backing out of the strike because of political compulsions. In the Nagpur review meeting, all the trade unions agreed on a one-day token strike on March 29 and four-day work to rule agitation between March 7 and March 10 in all the mines across the country.

Accordingly a notice has also been served to the coal ministry.

On February 19 all the trade unions would demonstrate in front of the subsidiary headquarters and would place their charter of demands, which would mainly include stalling the process of disinvestment, increasing import duty of coal as well as rationalising coal prices, Roy said.

SQ Zama, of INTUC- backed National Mine Workers Federation, said four trade unions were firm on their decision of going on a strike on March 29, although they were always open to talks with the government. “In September last year all the five trade unions joined hands to call a strike on issues related to labour and industrial relation but BMS ditched us at the last moment. So this time the four trade unions have decided not to take BMS into consideration,” Zama said.


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