KOLKATA: Coal India’s worker unions are waiting to hear from the new government on its plans for the coal miner and the mining sector before taking a decision on the next course of action, even as they vow to oppose any move to sell more stake in the state-run company. Though they are against stake sales, the unions are unlikely to oppose splitting of CIL’s subsidiaries into independent companies, their leaders have indicated.

We are against divestment of stakes in either CIL or any of its subsidiaries,” said SQ Zama, general secretary of the Indian National Mines Workers Federation.”At present, we are waiting for the Centre’s announcements on the sector and once their intentions are clear, we will formulate our stand.” Protests from the unions had forced the previous Manmohan Singh government to cut by half its target to sell a 10% stake in the company.

The divestment plan was subsequently abandoned. The government holds nearly 90% in CIL. The unions had a list of 25 demands, eight of which got settled last time when the government declared its intention of divesting additional stake in the company. The unions want the government to treat CIL as an infrastructure company and stop all initiatives to restructure it.

According to reports, taking a decision on the restructuring of CIL for improving its operational efficiency is among the key points of an action plan that the coal ministry has prepared for the sector. CIL, along with its seven subsidiaries, has been drawing negative attention from various quarters for missing production targets.

The government is expected to increase delegation of powers to all CIL subsidiaries, which include Eastern Coalfields, Bharat Coking Coal, Central Coalfields and South Eastern Coalfields. The coal ministry document, however, did not elaborate on the mechanism to be adopted by the government to restructure the maharatna company that meets as much as 80% of India’s coal demand. Consultancy firm Deloitte, which has been appointed to study the possibilities of restructuring CIL, has recently submitted its draft report to the coal ministry. The final report is awaited.