From the 2nd to the 5th of February, the Second International Mining Workers Conference will be held in Godavari Khani situated in the Singareni coal belt in Telengana. It is being organized by the National Preparatory Committee, consisting of ten unions of India for the International Coordination Group (ICG). The first conference was held in Peru four years earlier. Com. B. Pradeep, General Secretary of the IFTU and member of the ICG is the National Coordinator of the Preparatory Committee.
The International conference is being held in India at a time when our Govt. is accelerating the policy of opening up our natural resources for loot of MNCs and Corporate without virtually any stops. It is also opening up India wide for the Corporate to exploit our labour. Thus the mining sector in India faces contractualization, lowering of wages, poor implementation of safety standards, and increasing privatization in the name of outsourcing, ’captive mines’ being auctioned to Corporate especially big business houses of India and handing over of mines for limited periods to private companies.
The Conference is being held in India within a month of the ghastly mining accident in the Lalmatia Coalfields of ECL (Eastern Coalfields Limited) in an open cast mine outsourced to a private company. All the ills that plague mining in India were on display here, with the warnings of the workers that an accident was imminent being deliberately ignored, with 28 dead and many untraceable being contract workers with no recorded existence and with the contractors having fled the site and only long lines of insistent and sorrowing relatives left to prove that the workers were inside the mine. With this accident 2016 became the year of highest mine deaths since the past three years.
Indeed a very similar situation is being faced by mining workers throughout the world and very many of the problems are similar, may be in modified forms. Foremost is the scourge of contractualization which is spread worldwide. Thus the Conference envisages preparing a Programme for coordinated struggles through out the world.
The Conference is being held in the Singareni coal belt which is facing severe contractualization, has the highest accident rate in all coal mines in the country, is facing closure of underground coal mines and is facing the introduction of ‘continual mining machines’ (5 are already stationed in Bellampalli for introduction) imported at huge cost from Germany each of which will displace 300 workers. At the same time the coal mine workers of Singareni Colliery Company (SCCL) have a long history of militant struggles.
The delegations from India will include mining workers of coal, lignite, gold, uranium and other minerals. Among the unions who are members of the Preparatory committee are the NDLF, ECL Theka Shramik Adhikar Union West Bengal, the MSS from Jharkhand, NTUI, TUCI, and others.
Delegates from around 20 countries are expected to attend the Conference. There are expected to be 106 foreign delegates from Peru, Columbia, Bangladesh, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia, Congo, Russia, Philippines, Kenya and other countries.
The Conference will start with a mass rally on 2nd February afternoon for which the IFTU cadres throughout the area have geared up. Tens of gate meetings have been held at the mine pits where NC members, leaders of the IFTU in coal industry in Telengana and Arunodaya activists have participated. Apart from the General Assembly proceedings restricted to the delegates, ten forums or workshops on several issues concerning mining workers will be held on the 4th of Feb. which will be open to all participants.