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15 April, 2019Trade unions representing workers at Coal India Ltd will focus on organizing precarious workers and improving occupational health and safety following a training workshop held from 4-5 April 2019, at Raipur India.
A total of 25 union representatives, including eleven women organizers, who are members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates, the Indian National Mine Workers Federation (INMF) and Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation (HKMF) participated in the workshop, organized as part of IndustriALL’s South Asia union building project.
There are around 300,000 precarious workers at state-owned Coal India coalmines across the country, which is one of the largest public sector mining corporations in the world.
Large numbers of precarious workers with inadequate training are deployed in critical areas of mine operations, leading to accidents and resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. In contravention of the law, precarious workers are made to do permanent jobs and denied equal wages for equal work.
A total of 224 workers died in 186 fatal accidents Coal India mines between 2014 and 2018, while 635 workers suffered serious injuries in 632 reported accidents. The majority of victims were precarious workers.
During the workshop, the trade union representatives resolved to continue their efforts in organizing precarious workers and take action to ensure the implementation of wage increases for precarious workers, as recommended by Coal India’s high power committee in December 2018.
A campaign to stop unsafe working conditions, the use of sub-standard safety equipment and ensure availability of proper safety equipment will be key aspects of the action plan to reach out to precarious workers. A coordinator from each mine was selected to report on progress. Participants also promised to work to ensure 30 per cent women representation in their unions and give an increased space for youth in union structures as well as involvement in collective bargaining negotiations with the management.
Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia Regional Secretary said, “It is encouraging to see permanent workers extending solidarity to precarious workers, and the workshop witnessed active participation of women and youth organizers. Uncompromising efforts to improve health and safety are paramount in the coal mining industry in India.”