Barapukuria coal miners go on strike

At least 1000 Bangladeshi miners of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) went on an indefinite strike Thursday midnight to press home their 14-point demand including festival bonus and round-the-clock doctor and ambulance facilities for underground miners. Sources said the miners called the strike after several unsuccessful talks with the authorities on Thursday.

The workers also demanded full salary for the wounded miners and reinstatement of the miners who were fired by the company following the May 5 incident.

Earlier on May 5 this year, a group of miners demanding three months’ arrear wages went on the rampage at the BCMCL suspending coal extraction at the mine for five hours.

Sources said the agitating miners had been holding protest rallies in the mining area since yesterday morning.

“As the BCMCL authorities did not keep their promises, there will be no more talks, ” said the miners at the meeting. They alleged that the authorities breached the pledges they made last May.

BCMCL sources said the agitating workers also had been obstructing the sale of coal since 1:00pm yesterday.

BCMCL officials led by Managing Director Kamruzzaman held a meeting at the conference room of the company with leaders of the agitating miners Thursday night to resolve the issue. But they failed to provide any solution, sources said.

Kamruzzaman admitted the miners’ unrest at the BCMCL.

The BCMCL, a coal mining subsidiary of state owned Petrobangla, pays only Tk 4500 to 7200 to underground miners who produce 70 to 80 thousand tonnes of coal a month working eight-hour shifts.

Md Rabiul Islam, president of Barapukuria Coalmine Workers’ Union, alleged that they had been trying to realise their demands since May but the authorities did not pay heed to it.

Meanwhile, at least 300 Chinese miners under China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) have started extraction of coal from one of the coalfaces during the strike.

But sources said coal extraction by only 300 Chinese miners would not sustain for long as they will need to extract from more coalfaces.

BCMCL sources said they have to count a loss of Tk 3 crore a day if coal production remains suspended.

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