The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) appealed to the government and the workers' unions to urgently settle the issues amicably as the strike would only result in further dwindling of fuel supply "at a time when several plants are facing severe shortages," the chamber said in a release here.  

The PHD chamber said the unions' fears about restructuring of the state miner were exaggerated.

"The president PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), Alok B Shriram, appealed to all trade unions to call off their ongoing strike against the government move to restructure Coal India Ltd (CIL) and return to their respective work to accelerate coal production and sit on negotiation table with the government to resolve their concerns and grievances in an amicable manner," PHDCCI said in a statement.

Pointing out that restructuring of public and private utilities is the current reality, Shriram said "the restructuring drive being proposed by the government for CIL is unlikely to lead to its privatization which is being feared by the nnions.

"According to ASSOCHAM, the strike by five trade unions at the CIL mines would involve would loss of production of over one million tones (MT) of coal worth about Rs 200 crore per day.

"The strike would impact industrial growth across India especially in power deficient northern and southern regions, resulting in long unplanned outages," D S Rawat, secretary general ASSOCHAM said."Additionally, there would be a tariff impact if a higher proportion of expensive imported coal were to be used in thermal plants," he added.

The association said the strike would impact all Industries based on coal including the cement industries that are already reeling under pressure of raw material prices.

Meanwhile, the unions said on Wednesday that they were in talks with the government over their opposition to privatization that has sparked a five-day strike Tuesday.

"It is the second day of the strike on Wednesday. We are trying to talk to the central government in the evening. Let us see what happens," Basant Kumar Rai, vice president of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), said.

Another union leader, Jibon Roy, said more workers had joined the strike Wednesday.

"The participation rate has increased. Yesterday (Tuesday) evening we had a word with the coal secretary but there was no breakthrough," Roy from the CITU-affiliated All India Coal Workers Federation said.

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