Durgapur, Aug. 31: Eastern Coalfields Limited today shut down a Burdwan colliery indefinitely following alleged hooliganism by Trinamul trade union workers, the first such closure by the central government company in Bengal because of union-related problems.
The decision came hours after INTTUC workers allegedly assaulted seven company executives and detained them for over three hours last night at the Kumardihi colliery in Pandaveswar near Durgapur.
The alleged violence came after ECL executive Dibyendu Ghosh lodged a police complaint accusing an attendance clerk of holding a gun to his head after Ghosh had asked him why an employee absent for four days this month had been marked present. The attendance clerk is the INTTUC president at the Kumardihi colliery,
“The executives are scared to work at the mine as the culprit who threatened to kill one of them with a gun is yet to be arrested despite a police complaint at Pandaveswar police station. INTTUC workers are repeatedly threatening our executives to withdraw the complaint. None of the executives are willing to work at the mine. So we have decided to shut it down for an indefinite period,” said Niladri Roy, director (technical), ECL.
Around 600 people work at the Kumardihi colliery; ECL has advised them to seek transfer to other collieries.
“I can’t recall any colliery closing down before because of trade union hooliganism. It is unfortunate that at a time the chief minister is showcasing Bengal as an industry destination, members of her party’s union are creating terror at a public sector unit,” said Damodar Banerjee, general secretary of the ECL officers’ association.
Ghosh, an ECL welfare officer, said: “While checking the attendance register yesterday, I noticed that Madhusudan Mandal, a clerk in the billing section, had been marked present though, according to information available with me, he had not reported for work for four days from August 8.”
He added: “When I sought a clarification from attendance clerk Bappaditya Mukherjee, he started arguing with me. He said he was a Trinamul leader and I should not ask him such questions.”
Ghosh said Mukherjee stormed out of the room and returned within minutes with a pistol. “He held the pistol to my head and threatened to kill me. He said Mandal was an INTTUC supporter and would therefore always be marked present. I dared not speak any more and left the colliery,” he said.
After Ghosh lodged the first information report, INTTUC workers allegedly assaulted seven company executives outside the colliery last night, damaged their cars and locked them in a room.
“They threatened to kill us if Ghosh did not withdraw the FIR,” one of the executives said. The police rescued them around 10pm.
A second FIR has been lodged. The police said the accused were absconding.
The Kumardihi colliery has a production capacity of 200 tonnes per day. It is located in the ECL’s Bankola mining area, where rampant proxy attendance takes place, according to an internal vigilance report. Such practices have affected production, ECL officials said. The Kumardihi colliery supplies coal to NTPC, DVC and DPL power plants.
Hareram Singh, INTTUC general secretary at the ECL mines in Asansol and Durgapur, apologised for yesterday’s incident. “The incident is very unfortunate. We do not support such malpractices and hooliganism,” he said.