MAC: Mines and Communities

Striking Bangladesh coal workers achieve some success

Published by MAC on 2011-09-26
Source: Statement (2011-09-12)

Contract workers at Bangladesh's only coal mine have won some significant concessions from its Chinese management, following a strike earlier this month.

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Contract Coal Miners in Bangladesh Win Guarantees with Strikes

ICEM statement

12 September 2011

A work stoppage and hunger strike by non-regular coal miners in Bangladesh ended on 6 September, three days after the 1,145 contract workers took up strike action again against state-owned Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd. (BCMCL) and its extraction contractor, the China National Import and Export Corp. (CMC).

The strike originally began on 23 August, but was suspended on 27 August so miners could celebrate the Islamic Eid vacation. In negotiations between the Barapukuria Coal Mine Miners' and Workers' Union, BCMCL's parent, the Bangladesh Oil, Gas, Mineral Corp. (PETROBANGLA), CMC, the country's Minister of Land, and Dinajpur Province authorities on 5 September, the union won production bonuses and holiday guarantees, as well as assurances that each year 10% of non-skilled workers will see their employment status regularized.

BCMCL, the country's only operating coal mine, guaranteed that production bonuses will take effect when coal output exceeds 70,000 tonnes per month. The contract miners, employed by CMC through an arrangement with the Xuzhou Coal Mine Group of China (XMC), also won a four-fold increase in festival allowances, a paid three-day holiday period each for two Eid vacations, and 20 kilos of rice per miner each month.

Regularisation of employment, however, was the major achievement in the August-September strike action. Since CMC began operating the mine the mine in 2005, the contract miners were without many social protections, insurances, and pension pensions.

Barapukuria Coal Mine Miners' and Workers' Union President Rabiul Islam called the settlement satisfactory, with BCMCL and the Chinese employer accepting a good share of the union's demands.

BCMCL has a recoverable coal deposit of 64 million tones, of which only 1.13 million tones have been extracted since inception of the mine five years ago. The mine produces thermal coal with the bulk of it transported to Bangladesh's lone 250 megawatt electric generating plant.

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