Talks are on between the trade unions at Coal India and the management for a hike in wages. The Indian government-owned coal mining and refining company has never given wage hikes beyond 20 to 25 per cent, and that too, at intervals of five years. The unions are now demanding that the workers’ wages be increased by 50 per cent. The chairman, however, has said that it would be difficult to fulfil this demand.
With staff having been reduced and plans being made to push production, the unions anticipate an increase in profits. Of course, an increase in wages will also increase the fuel costs, which will adversely affect the energy sector of the country. This, in turn, will add to the woes of the Indian economy, which is already struggling to recover from the pandemic and inflation.
Pramod Agarwal, chairman, Coal India, cites financial constraints as a reason why the wage hike may not materialise. Apparently, the financial condition of Coal India is so weak presently, that even a 10 per cent hike will result in a heavy expenditure of about Rs 5,000 crore, a burden that will weigh down the PSU.
Discussions have been on between the unions and the management since July 2021, when the next revision of wages was due.
If coal becomes more expensive, its demand will fall. With more people looking for less expensive alternatives, it will be difficult for India to reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
Coal India has about 2,56,000 employees on its rolls.