Singareni miners demand payment for layoff period

Hyderabad, April 3 (IANS) A day after government-owned Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) announced temporary layoffs of underground mines in view of ongoing nation-wide lockdown, some trade unions on Thursday served strike notice demanding payment of full wages for the lockdown period among others.

The Central Trade Unions Joint Forum decided to go on indefinite strike from April 15, a day after lockdown is to end.

The Forum, comprising unions affiliated to All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) gave a notice of strike to the company’s Chairman and Managing Director.

The demands include repayment of one day wages deducted towards Covid-19 Relief Fund, immediate repayment of 50 per cent of wages deducted and to lock down all underground mines under SCCL as per a circular issued by Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) to maintain social distance and full wages for the period of lockdown.

The management, however, said wages towards Covid-19 Relief Fund were deducted following a representation by the recognised union.

The SCCL on Wednesday issued orders for lockdown of 22 out of 27 underground mines as part of precautionary measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

It announced a stoppage of manual underground face working, manual drilling and support work till April 14 or until the lockdown is lifted.

The temporary layoff is likely to affect about 20,000 underground coal miners and more than 8,000 other employees.

However, five mechanised mines will function normally along with all opencast mines.

However, Singareni officials said as the laid off mines contribute only about 10 per cent of total coal production, the supplies to thermal power stations may not be impacted much.

However, the trade union leaders say coronavirus scare has already affected the attendance of workers in all the mines and this is likely to hit coal production. The monthly coal production of 2 lakh tonnes may see a decline by 30-40 per cent.

The company, which has its mines spread over some Telangana districts, produces 67 million tonnes of coal every year. This coal is supplied to power generation plants in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.