Mining wage

Coal India workers’ unions call for Coal Ministry intervention to speed up wage review

Labor unions at Coal India Ltd have called for a meeting with the Union Coal Ministry to seek their intervention in the ongoing wage talks after the meeting between them and the company ended without an agreement earlier this month, members of one of the unions told Moneycontrol.

Some union members have said they may consider a strike if their demands are not accepted. If that happened, it would potentially disrupt coal production and could cripple the electricity sector which is facing supply problems anyway during the monsoon and is trying to avoid another energy crisis after the one in March- april.

“We sent a request to the Minister of Coal for a meeting. Only after meeting him will we decide on an action plan,” Sudhir Ghurde, secretary general, Akhil Bharatiya Khadan Mazdoor Sangh, told Moneycontrol. Akhil Bharatiya Khadan Mazdoor Sangh is the mining industry sub-group of the RSS affiliate union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).

Unions like Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sangh (HMS) and Center of Trade Unions have so far held five rounds of meetings with the joint bipartisan committee formed by Coal India to the coal industry. (JBCCI) under the Eleventh Round of the National Coal Wage Agreement (NCWA-XI). The meetings took place over a period of one year, with the last one taking place on 1 July.

“If the unions want to meet the coal ministry, that’s their prerogative. We are very clear that we will follow due process and accept the terms mutually agreed between them and the JBCCI. Our management wants to complete the process soon,” a senior Coal India executive said.

Unions initially demanded a 50% pay rise for non-managerial workers at Coal India, while Coal India offered a 3% increase. The unions then reduced their demand to a 47% increase. Wages were last revised five years ago when the 10th pay deal was implemented.

On July 6, the Coal Ministry said in a statement that Coal India aims to conclude the wage pact for the non-managerial workforce as soon as possible. “The CIL maintains friendly and harmonious relations with its unions and strives to avoid any disagreement or strike given the importance of the coal sector in the country. Negotiations are ongoing and it usually takes time to complete the pact,” the statement said.

Coal India reviews the salaries of its non-managerial workers, who represent 94% of its total workforce, every five years. The review is due in July 2021 and once approved will be paid retrospectively.

Analysts say Coal India would be walking a tightrope as any salary review will have a significant impact on its spending at a time when the company is pushing investment but unable to raise the price of coal in line with rising costs. . But the bigger concern is that if workers potentially go on strike, it could lead to a power crisis, as domestic coal demand continues to be strong due to a pick-up in power demand.

“Strong operational performance in Q1FY23 points to a better FY23: with daily electricity demand consistently exceeding 200 GW and expected to increase further, as well as international coal prices still high, we expect reliance on domestic coal to remain strong and that electronic auction premiums will remain high in FY23. This will likely result in a better FY23, both in terms of volumes and prices,” ICICI Securities said in a July 4 report on Coal India.
Source: Money Control