|A section of trade unions in state-owned Coal India are fearing that the ongoing process of wage revision may get delayed following the termination of Mohan Das from Coal India’s Board. Das, who held the portfolio of the director of personnel and industrial relations in the company, was a key member in the 10th Joint Bipartite Committee for the Coal Industry (JBCCI) for pay revision of over three lakh non-executive employees working at its eight subsidiaries.|
Although trade union leaders opined that the process of wage revision may not get impacted as 14 members from the company and the trade unions each are negotiating across the table, but the process may get delayed.
“Mohan Das, along with the management, has been negotiating with the trade unions for long and with his sudden termination, this process may get delayed”, Rajendra Prasad Singha, general secretary of the Forward Block-supported Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation (HKMF) said. Singha is one of the representatives in JBCCI, representing workers' interests.
In November last year, the JBCCI was set up which is looking at revision of pay, pension and other health benefits of the workers.
Although there is no mandatory deadline for the negotiation to be completed, usually it takes more than a year to complete the collective bargaining. However, last time when such negotiations took place, a 25 per cent hike was agreed upon in a six-month timeframe.
“With encouraging results last time, we were hoping that this time, the negotiations will be over soon. But a new member in JBCCI will take time to get his hands on the negotiation process which might delay it”, SQ Zama, secretary general of the Congress-affiliated Indian National Mineworkers Federation said.
The company, however, thinks different from these trade unions.
“Das has been replaced in JBCCI by a person of similar grade. It is unwise to think that a person who holds the portfolio of a director will not have personnel handling capabilities”, a senior Coal India official stated.
Following Das’s termination, Coal India has vested his responsibility and department to SN Prasad, the company’s director of marketing.
Asked about his view, Das said, “Over the years, one develops a relation with the trade unions on account of continuous interaction. Now, the trade unions will interact with another capable person. But then the comfort level and trust with the person needs to be rebuilt again."
According to company officials, Prasad has been given the additional charge of personnel and industrial relations until the company finds a capable person to permanently man the department.
In the negotiations which are underway, the trade unions have asked for a 50 per cent hike while Coal India is yet to decide on the minimum hike to start the negotiation process.