With trade unions observing nationwide strike, production is likely to suffer at most of the state-owned companies, on Wednesday. But, Coal India arguably the single largest employer after railways, may be less affected.
If the trend over the last couple of years is correct, CIL will today end up producing anything between 70-80 per cent of its average daily production of 1.2 million tonne (August).
The credit goes to outsourcing of coal. Over the last decade, CIL became increasingly dependent on private miners to extract coal. The share of outsourcing has increased from 50 per cent of total production, merely five years ago, to 55 per cent.
The central trade unions hardly have any penetration in this segment. Most of the large contractor-operated mines were open during the last couple of strikes.
“Private miners record higher labour productivity, mine coal at much lower cost than CIL and is now the guiding force of the company’s growth initiative”, said a coal officer from Chhatishgarh. He expects the share of outsourced coal to move beyond 60 per cent in net five years, if the current production growth is maintained.
It will be interesting to watch how central trade unions cope with the changing times. As on Wednesday, the BJP affiliated union didn’t join strike. Some others joined the striking consortium in a half hearted manner. And most of the coal producing States promised to ensure safe passage to willing workers.