Barapukuria miners on indefinite strike

Barapukuria coal mine workers, who went on an indefinite strike yesterday, stage protest in front of a gate of the mine in Dinajpur.Photo: STAROur Correspondent, Dinajpur

Mining at Barapukuria came to a halt yesterday morning as contractual miners and staff of the coalmine went on an indefinite strike demanding regularisation of their jobs.

The Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd (BCMCL) employs nearly 1,200 people on contract basis including around 1,000 miners, leaders of the workers union said.

The miners, mostly from XMC, a contractor company, abstained from work from 6:00am yesterday, suspending coal production, said Mohammad Rabiul Islam, president of Barapukuria Miners’ and Workers’ Union.

Citing mining as risky and life-threatening job, Rabiul said they wanted security of the miners through regularisation.

During the last three years, miners staged several agitation programmes, including work stoppages, demanding regularisation of employment so that they can have benefits like insurance and pension packages, Rabiul said.

“Every time we agitated to realise our demands, the BCMCL authorities assured us of meeting those demands. But they never kept their promises,” added Rabiul.

On Sunday, the leaders of miners’ and workers’ union announced the latest programme at a press conference at Dinajpur Press Club.

Shariful Haque Motin, general secretary of the union read out the demands in presence of journalists and fellow workers.

At the press conference, the miners and staff alleged that they have been working at the mine for the last 72 months extracting record quantity of coals.

During the period, at least 8 miners were killed in accidents and four others were maimed. But the authorities remained unconcerned while the miners continued coal production risking their lives.

The BCMCL authorities renewed agreement with XMC on August 10 but ignored the demands of the miners and staff, they alleged.

Later, the miners handed over a memorandum to deputy commissioner Md. Jamal Uddin Ahmed containing their demands.

During the daylong agitation yesterday, the agitating staff and miners virtually kept the officials and employees of BCMCL confined to their workplaces.

The union leaders said that they were forced to go for strike as the negotiations with the district administration ended in failure on Monday.

However, Mohammad Quamruzzaman, managing director (MD) of the BCMCL, said they were trying to resolve the problem through discussion.

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