January 8, 2015 1:15:37 am
Even as the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is perceived as the trade union wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, union president Brij Nath Rai said it is a wrong perception that the trade union would blindly support all policies of the government. In an interview with Surabhi, Rai explains the reasons behind the strike at Coal India Ltd. Excerpts:
What was the impetus for the strike at Coal India Ltd?
The coal ministry in an earlier meeting had assured all five trade unions that there would be discussion on any issue related to Coal India Ltd. But this did not happen and they went ahead with the coal Ordinance and privatisation while the issue of wage revision has still not been taken up.
So all five trade unions had called the strike. From Wednesday, it had begun impacting the power and manufacturing sector. 78.4 per cent of power in the country is generated from coal.
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What are your views on disinvestment in CIL?
We are also against any disinvestment in CIL as the company has enough funds of its own to finance its expansion and capital requirements. The issue of privatisation has also been raised in the coal ordinance.
What will you do if the government refuses to withdraw the ordinance?
We are currently on strike as protest and will take more severe steps — based on discussions with all five trade unions — if the ordinance is not withdrawn. But we are hoping that the government will agree — the coal ministry, the labour ministry and trade unions are now trying to work out the issues.
The BMS is perceived as the trade union wing of the BJP since both are affiliated to the RSS.
This is a wrong perception. The BMS has nothing to do with the government even though we are both affiliated to the RSS. The government works independently. The BMS does not support many policies of the government and this is a war of ideologies. We can not support everything blindly but on many issues, we do think alike.
What are the other policies of the government to which the BMS has raised objections?
Our biggest objection is on the so called “labour reforms” initiated by the government. The Rajasthan government started the labour law changes and BMS led the largest protest on that in the state of over 30,000 workers. Now, these are being taken up even at the Centre and if they are not withdrawn, there will be a massive agitation by workers across the country. The coal strike and the bank workers’ strike that was called off are all against the policies of the government.
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