Kothagudem: Over 50,000 employees of the state-owned Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) will exercise their franchise on Thursday for identification of recognised trade union in the public sector undertaking. The election assumes significance as it has gained political colour with charges and counter-charges being traded between the ruling TRS and the opposition parties.
Such elections were held for the first time on September 9, 1998. The second, third, fourth and fifth polls by secret ballot were conducted on February 19, 2001, on May 14, 2003, on August 9, 2007 and June 28, 2012. Thursday’s voting will be the sixth such election.
The coal mines of SCCL are spread in six districts of the state and the company had produced over 61 million tonnes of coal last year. According to a senior official of the SCCL, as per the directive of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, 92 polling booths have been set up across 11 areas in six districts of the coal belt to facilitate the voting.
"As many as 52,534 employees are eligible to cast their votes. Polling will be held between 7 am and 5 pm tomorrow. The entire election process will be under the supervision of officials of the Union Labour ministry. The counting of votes will be undertaken in the evening," the senior official said.
As many as 15 trade unions are in fray. Interestingly, the trade unions affiliated to opposition Congress and TDP have joined hands for the poll and some leaders of the two parties have campaigned together.
The main contest would be between Telangana Boggu Ghani Karmika Sangham (TGBKS), affiliated to the ruling TRS, and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), affiliated to CPI, supported by national trade unions such as Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) of Congress, Telugu Nadu Trade Union Council (TNTUC) of Telugu Desam Party, and Hind Mazdoor Sangh (HMS), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
"Singareni employees Public meeting @ Yellandu. Immense support by the employees to their own TBGKS. Jai Telangana," TRS MP and honorary president of TBGKS K Kavitha tweeted Tuesday.
In a bid to woo voters, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had last week promised jobs to dependents of employees on "compassionate grounds". With jobs to the dependents of employees being struck down by courts, Rao said such jobs would be given on "compassionate grounds" and that legal advice was being obtained on the matter.
Meanwhile, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president Mallu Ravi said the TRS government-backed TBGKS "utterly" failed in keeping promises that they made during previous elections. "Now the ruling party is trying to lure voters by offering cash.
This time the grand alliance (of AITUC) is going to win the elections," Ravi said. Exuding confidence that the AITUC-led alliance will win in the elections, the Congress leader said the results of the SCCL elections could be considered as a prelude to 2019 general elections, reflecting the mood of the voters.
Meanwhile, the SCCL management has appealed the workers to bring their identity card while casting their ballots. It called upon workers, trade union organisations, officials and the representatives of the Union Ministry of Labour to cooperate in ensuring peaceful elections.