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India coal miners end nationwide strike

India coal miners end nationwide strike

Coal miners in India have put an early end to a strike against government plans to commercialize mining of the commodity and sell a 10% of the state-controlled monopoly Coal India (CIL), in a move said to be the largest industrial action in the country since 1977.

Five major trade unions had called the five-day strike from Tuesday, shutting down production at all of CIL’s coal mines — which supply about 80% of India’s total coal requirement—, sparking fears of power cuts in the energy-starved nation.

About half a million workers were taking part in the strike, ended late Wednesday night, NDTV reports.

“There is no intention for denationalization of CIL [Coal India Ltd],” Piyush Goyal, the minister for coal and power, told the Press Trust of India news agency after five hours of talks. “CIL will be protected and there need be no apprehension about its ownership.”

Despite lasting less than two days, the labour action cut CIL production by half, increasing fears of widespread disruption to power supplies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to open India’s mostly state-run coal mines to private investors as part of wide-ranging reforms to boost the economy.