Thousands of coal mine workers in Telangana are protesting against the central government’s decision to privatize coal mines in the country.

Telangana’s Singareni coal mine workers are protesting against central government
news Coal Mine Thursday, July 02, 2020 - 18:45

Coal mine workers across Telangana participated in a 24-hour protest on Thursday against the central government’s decision to privatise coal mines. This call was given by Former Member of Parliament and Telangana Boggu Ghani Kharmika Sangham (TBGKS) Honorary President Kalvakuntla Kavitha, as part of the continuing fight by the workers. 

In a tweet that targeted the Centre, the former MP said, “Today across the nation, thousands of coal mine workers are on strike demanding the central government to roll back the decision to auction coal blocks to private companies. The TRS party-affiliated TBGKS is also on strike today. We demand that this privatization move to be rolled back.”

Miriyala Raji Reddy, General Secretary TBGKS said, “We are on a  24-hour protest against the central government’s decision. Today, we are staring at a bleak future. We are around 45,000 workers in total at the Singareni Collieries Company Limited. As part of the ongoing protest, apart from those in essential duties, most of us refrained from going to work today.”

Telangana’s Singareni Collieries Company Limited is a government-owned mining company with its headquarters in Kothagudem. It is a public sector undertaking. The company is jointly owned by the Telangana government and the Union government

Here are five reasons why the protests are happening:

1) With privatization of coal mines, thousands of workers are worried about their future. They fear for job security in regards to working for a private company, as against working for a public undertaking.

2) Workers are worried about a reduction of salaries if privatisation happens. They believe, to cut costs, salaries will be cut by private players.

3) They are worried about violation of safety procedures and non-compliance with the various rules and acts laid down for employee safety. They believe private companies only care about profits hence employee safety will be compromised.

4) They fear reduction in employee welfare and other programmes if privatisation happens. Presently, they are being provided with numerous employee benefits.

5) They fear privatization will lead to over exploitation of the environment and the earth’s resources. Already, the Centre has been criticised for the new controversial Environment Impact Assessment draft of 2020, which dilutes the law and does away with public consultations for a wide range of projects.