India’s coal miner strike is shaping up to be the country’s largest industrial action in four decades.
Millions of India’s coal miners continued to strike for a second day Wednesday against the government’s plan to allow private companies into the coal industry.
Between half and 75 percent of India’s daily coal production has been hampered by the strike, according to local media. The strike began Tuesday, after coal worker unions and the government failed to strike a deal over the entry of private firms into the market.
The state run Coal India giant has long dominated the Indian coal industry, but the neoliberal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to allow private firms to mine and sell coal. Coal India supplies over 80 percent of the country’s coal, and is the largest single coal producer in the world.
After India’s state run railway company, Coal India is the nation’s largest employer. Five unions representing around 3.7 million workers say allowing private firms into the industry could lead to widespread job culls at the state firm, and have accused the government of unfairly distributing mining rights.
The strike is expected to continue for another three days, unless the government can negotiate a deal with the infuriated unions. Unions are also mulling a second walkout on January 13.
The event is already being hailed as the largest strike for 40 years in India.