Telangana mines: Production hit as 75k workers go on strike against privatisation


Mining in 23 underground and 19 open cast coal mines belonging to the state-run Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) in northern Telangana districts came to a grinding halt on Thursday, with nearly 75,000 miners launching a 72-hour-long strike in protest against the central government’s decision to privatise four coal blocks in the region.

The three-day strike is being spearheaded by Telangana Boggu Gani Karmika Sangham (TBGKS), a recognised trade union of the SCCL, affiliated to the ruling Telangana Rasthra Samithi. All the other major unions like Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Hindustan Mazdoor Sangh (HMS) also joined the strike.

TBGKS general secretary Miryala Raji Reddy said around 43,000 coal mine workers and employees, besides around 25,000 contract employees, struck the work, bringing the production of coal in the mines to a halt.

The unions are protesting against the NDA government’s move to privatise four coal blocks — Kalyan Khani block-6, Koyagudem block-3, Sathupalli block-3 and Shravanapalli, belonging to the SCCL.

The Centre had already completed privatisation of first tranche of coal blocks in November last year. The bidding for the second tranche of coal mines privatisation is expected to be taken up next week, Raji Reddy said.

He said the unions, among other things, also demanded the enhancement of age from 35 years to 40 years for dependents of medically invalidated and deceased employees.

The coal mine workers at SCCL Ramagundam region in Peddapalli district took out a rally at the coal mines and raised slogans against the privatisation move. They stopped the mining operations by locking up the gates.

Mild tension prevailed at Bhupalpally 8-incline Long-wall coalmine, when the management of the SCCL made an attempt to engage private workers to load coal into the trucks. The union leaders obstructed the private workers from entering the premises and the police had to enter the scene to pacify them.

Similar protests were taken up at the SCCL mines at Srirampur, Bellampalli and Mandamarri coalmines in Adilabad district. “The Centre should unconditionally withdraw its proposal to privatise the profit-making coal mines of Singareni. The decision would affect the future of the workers and the very survival of the company is at stake,” AITUC general secretary Vasireddy Sitaramaiah said, addressing the agitating workers.

The Singareni coal mines are spread over erstwhile districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, and Warangal in Telangana.

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