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Coal India's workers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the government goes ahead with its plan to sell more equity in the company to raise an estimated Rs 20,000 crore.
A strike can cripple India's economy if power plants run out of coal stocks and derail Finance Minister P Chidambaram's disinvestments programme as Coal India's stake sale is expected to meet half the disinvestment target for 2013-14 in one stroke. The company's unions had firmly opposed the stake sale in the run-up to its initial public offer also.
"We were given firm commitment by Pranab Mukherjee and senior coal ministry officials that no further divestment will be done. If the government now makes a move to divest additional stake in the company, all the unions will go on an indefinite strike," said Jibon Roy, general secretary, All India Coal Workers Federation. In October 2010, the government sold 10% stake in Coal India at Rs 245 per share to raise Rs 15,199 crore.
The IPO was oversubscribed 15.3 times. "The government's plan is to break the behemoth into small companies and sell them to private entities. We will not let it happen. The strike will start the day government makes any further move," Roy said.
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