Coal workers threaten to go on strike

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) A trade union associated with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Wednesday threatened to go on strike from July 10 against alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks to private firms and exploitation of coal workers.

"We will launch an agitation and go on an all-India coal strike from July 10," Deepak Jaiswal, president of the National Front of India Trade Unions (NFITU), told reporters here.

Jaiswal said the proposed strike and agitation will have full support from the Nationalist Congress Party led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

"Our strike is against the government's move to privatise coal mines. There are huge irregularities in the allocation process and we are demanding cancellation of all the licences," Jaiswal said.

He said the trade union had written letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal highlighting the irregularities in coal block allocation and exploitation of workers.

Jaiswal said 186 coal blocks, with an estimated coal store of 43,548.14 million tonnes, have been allocated free of cost.

"If we consider the cost per tonne to be about Rs.1,000, then its total cost will be over Rs.43 lakh crores, more than any other scandal in size," he said.

Jaiswal alleged that the government was trying to cover up the issue.