Union demand 21% wage hike, Coal India management can afford only 15%
Coal India management has said it cannot afford the extent of salary hike its unions are asking because its fund position would not permit. However, unions are not ready to accept this, creating a standoff with the management at the last three-day meeting which ended inconclusively on Saturday.
Coal India will now make a fresh assessment of its fund position to see if it can raise its offer and has scheduled another meeting on August 24.
Unions are not ready to accept Coal India’s inadequate financial position reasoning because they feel excessive dividend payment and fund transfer to the government under the buyback scheme has depleted its fund leaving less than adequate money for workmen salary hike. While unions had initially demanded a 50% hike this time, they later bought it down to 21% but Coal India management says it can afford a 15% hike since its funds position would not permit more.
“We have been asking for an additional Rs 5,600 crore on account of salaries of workmen but the Coal India management wants to offer about Rs 4,500 crore. However, we will not accept anything below 21%,” said BK Rai representing coal workers on behalf of BMS at Coal India. Workmen salaries accounts for as much as 52% of cost of production of one tone of coal.
SQ Zama, general secretary of Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation under INTUC, said, “Due to wrong government policies, excessive payment to government through dividend and buyback scheme, the company’s net worth has halved from its level of 2012-13. Higher dividend, the buyback scheme, lack of scientific assessment and proper planning towards factual demand supply of coal and power has caused damage to the financial strength of the company.”
The monopoly has been making provisions for a salary hike since June 2016. According to officials they have been making a provision of Rs 700 crore each quarter that totals Rs 2,800 per year.
In 2016-17, Coal India spent around Rs 33,000 crore on account of salaries of its employees, out of which as much as Rs 28,000 crore was spent on account of salaries for some 3 lakh workmen. Rest all were for officers.
Every five years, all central workmen unions negotiate with the management for a salary hike through a series of meetings. Validity of the last pay hike expired on June 31, 2016. Following this, four unions at Coal India submitted their demand which is about 50% higher than the present pay structure. In 2011, unions placed their demands separately with the Coal India management.