Nationalization is Not a Short Cut to Coal Mine Safety

Abstract Moves by the authorities in Shanxi, the province at the heart of China’s coal country, to close and merge small privately-run mines with larger state-run mines will only improve coal mine safety if, in addition, the miners themselves are allowed and encouraged to play a key role in safety management and engage in collective bargaining with their bosses over pay and work conditions. Managers at state-owned mines are just as fixated with profits as their counterparts in the private sector and, in most state-owned mines, production is in any case contracted out to private operators. Moreover, managers in state-owned mines are just as ruthless as the owners of small private mines in imposing inequitable compensation agreements on coal mine accident victims and their families. While the closure, merger and nationalization of small private mines may make coal mine safety management more efficient, it can only be the start of the process.
Date 2009 11 10
Publisher China Labour Bulletin
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2 Coal, 2.4 Coal and Workers