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Wednesday, June 13, 2001

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Singareni stalemate continues

V. Rishi Kumar

HYDERABAD, June 12

THE stand-off between the management of the Singareni Collieries Company Ltd, the State Government on one side and the coal miners continued on Tuesday with the workers' unions refraining from resuming work from Saturday last.

The strike comes in at a time when the issue of payment of NCWA-VI arrears is under consideration before the Joint Bipartite Committee for Coal Industry (JBCCI) at the national level. The JBCCI unions are slated to hold parleys with the Coal Ministry thi s month to resolve the issue.

Government sources maintained the strike move was premature and a result of hasty decision by the miners' unions.

Four trade unions -- SC Workers' Union (AITUC), SCML Union (INTUC), GLBK Sangham (IFTU) and SM&EW Union (HMS) had given a strike notice on April 20 over a charter of 24 demands. In pursuance of the above strike notice, miners are now on an indefinite str ike.

The Government maintained that it is unfortunate that though several bilateral discussions were held with the recognised unions, and certain important concessions were made by the management as well as the Government, the colliers chose to strike work. E ven the State Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu's invitation for talks went unheeded.

The Singareni Collieries had managed to extricate itself from collapse following a series of changes which had begun to yield better results.

This was following the Central Government decision to extend moratorium on payment of Rs 663 crore towards interest for a period of 10 years. Coupled with several other steps, including changed work culture, Singareni was heading towards road to recove ry.

On Monday, Mr Naidu appealed to the union to reason out issues and ensure that the company does not go to the BIFR fold. The strike is causing not only loss of wages to the workmen but loss of production.

The strike, seen as detrimental to the interest of both the company as well as the workmen, is learnt to be losing about Rs 9 crore per day in addition to wage loss of Rs 4 crore per day.

Earlier in May, the State Government, the company management and the unions had worked out a formula whereby it was decided to keep in abeyance the issue relating to professional tax.

However, other related issues of their charter of demands, particularly with regard to wage arrears and employment to the kin of workmen and their demands were kept on hold. This was based on the proposed bipartite talks with the Coal Ministry.

However, the Government opined that an amicable solution would be worked out to ensure that the miners will resume work. To address some of their issues, a fresh round of talks are being convened with the State Power Minister, sources said.

Related links:
Singareni staff stir hits output
Naidu urges Singareni miners to resume work

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