Hyderabad: Coal and mining workers and employees of Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) have launched indefinite dharnas on Monday at all units of the company in Telangana against the central government’s decision to allow commercial coal mining. At the national protest call of All India Coal Workers Federation against the privatisation of the mining sector, members of the Singareni Collieries Employees Union (SCEU), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), staged dharnas at SCCL units of Bhupalpally, Kothegudam and Manchiryala.
Besides strongly opposing the commercial coal mining, which was cleared by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government, the coal workers are demanding the government to scrap the new farm laws fearing corporate takeover of the agriculture sector.
The regional demands of SCCL workers include hassle-free granting of no objection certificates (NOC) by general managers for employees and workers who want to pursue higher studies in registered universities in the state.
“Many workers and employees of SCCL are struggling to get NOCs for pursuing higher studies that is needed for them to qualify for higher posts in the company. We are urging the administration to resolve the issue in the interest of the workers,” reads a memorandum submitted by SCEU Bhupalpally secretary Rajayya to the general manager of the mines there.
“As part of the nationwide protests by the coal workers, the dharnas will be staged at all mining centres of SCCL. The SCEU will hold dharnas in front of the offices of general managers from March 20. From April 1 to 10, rallies are planned in workers’ colonies and the effigies of BJP party leaders will be burnt,” said Manda Narsimha Rao, secretary of SCEU.
All workers unions of the singareni workers have protested several times demanding the scrapping of four labour codes.
The demands put forward by the workers include immediate constitution of 11th wage board, payment of house rental allowances (HRA) for workers, stoppage of irregularities in calculating dearness allowances (DA), payment of equal special allowances for contract workers, income tax exemption for Singerani staff and periodical recruitment of vacant posts among others.
After the formation of the Telangana state, in June 2014, the Telangana Assembly passed a resolution seeking income tax exemption for SCCL workers and sent it to the Centre for approval. However, the BJP-led Union government has remained silent over the matter.
“SCCL workers will oppose tooth and nail against the BJP government’s plans for allowing commercial coal mining. Furthermore, the workers are aware that the central government is pushing for privatisation of the public sector including the coal industry,” said Rao.Last November, Singareni workers have been at the forefront in joining the general strike called by the central trade unions against the ‘anti-workers’ policies of the BJP government.
In July 2020, all major workers’ unions of SCCL including SCEU and Telangana Boggugani Karmika Sangam have stopped their work during the three-day countrywide strike by coal workers against the central government’s decision to allow commercial coal mining in the country.