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Coal India Wage Talks End Inconclusively as Workers Seek Perks

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Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Coal India Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of the commodity, said talks with labor unions on a wage agreement ended inconclusively amid a demand by workers for additional perks and allowances.

“There is no agreement today,” Coal India Chairman Nirmal Chandra Jha said after a meeting with unions in New Delhi. “A new committee will be formed after the new chairman takes charge and discussions will continue.” Jha’s tenure is scheduled to end on Jan. 31.

The company, based in Kolkata, was close to an agreement on a 25 percent wage increase after talks with unions, Coal India personnel director R. Mohan Das said on Jan. 13. Wages at state-owned Coal India are revised every five years for non-executive employees and were previously increased by an average 24 percent in 2006, in an accord reached in January 2009.

Coal India fell 0.3 percent to 341.95 rupees at close in Mumbai. The benchmark Sensitive Index climbed 0.9 percent.

The unions are demanding improved allowances for workers, health insurance and better retirement benefits, Jibon Roy, a secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, said in an interview today before the talks ended. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions is one of five that’s negotiating with the Coal India management.

“The trade unions have given a diluted proposal for an increase in allowances and other employee benefits, but the management is not willing to accept that,” Roy said at the venue of the meeting. “We are not willing to accept just a 25 percent increase in wages.”

Jha assumed additional charge as chairman and managing director of Coal India after P.S. Bhattacharyya retired on Feb. 28, 2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rajesh Kumar Singh in New Delhi at rsingh133@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net

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