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Coal India Unions Stick to Demand of 50% Hike in Wages

Ronak Chhabra |
CIL chairman had reportedly said it would be difficult to raise wages due to financial constraints.
Coal India Unions Stick to Demand of 50% Hike in Wages

Image Courtesy: Moneycontrol

Two days after Coal India Limited (CIL) chairman Parmod Agrawal reportedly told Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation (HKMF) president Nathulal Pandey that it will be difficult to accede to the workers’ demand of a 50 per cent hike in wages, the trade unions refused to budge on Saturday.

Wages of CIL employees are revised every five years with the hike due in July this year, according to an agreement between the staff and the management.

According to media reports, Agrawal had told Pandey during a meeting that it would be difficult to accept the demand of the unions owing to “financial constraints” and that even a 10 per cent hike in wages would cause an additional “financial burden” of around Rs 5,000 crore to the PSU.

Last month, in a joint charter of demands submitted by the trade unions to the Joint Bipartite Committee for the Coal Industry, which negotiates and decides the wages of workers of the coal industry, the workers demanded a 50 per cent hike in the minimum guaranteed benefits to coal workers of all grades, among others.

The agreement covers CIL and its subsidiaries, according to a letter of demands addressed to the secretary, ministry of coal. It was signed by all the union members of the bipartite committee, including, All India Coal Workers Federation (AICWF), Indian Mine Workers’ Federation (IMWF), Akhil Bharatiya Khadan Mazdoor Sangha (ABKMS) and HKMF.

DD Ramanandan, general secretary, AICWF, told Newsclick that the demand is “legitimate” and “must be honoured by the company.” “The company’s target for the upcoming years shows that production will nearly be doubled in the next five years. In the corresponding period, manpower will reduce by more than 23 per cent due to superannuation,” he said.

Ramanandan reasoned that a 50 per cent hike in wages shouldn’t cause any “difficulty” to the company. After all, the company will increase its profits and will also save on the expenditure on employee benefits, he added. “Therefore, is it wrong to ask the company to share a portion of its profits with the workers?”

On Agrawal’s comments, as reported in the media, Ramanandan said that this was nothing but a “bargaining tactic”.

In the last wage agreement signed in 2017, the unions and the management had agreed on a 20 per cent hike in wages. This time, workers are also demanding a 10 per cent attendance bonus, no ceiling on payment of overtime and other perks of up to 55 per cent of the revised basic pay, among others.

We do not give any importance to the chairman’s comments unless the same is communicated to us during the negotiations,” said Ramendra Kumar, general secretary, IMWF. The next meeting with the management will be held in September.

With more than 66 per cent of the stake held by the government, CIL is the world’s largest miner of coal and also among the largest corporate employers in the country.

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