UP: Power Employees, Engineers Up In Arms Again After Govt Failed to Fulfill December 3 Agreement
Lucknow: On the call of the UP Rajya Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, an umbrella body of engineers, power employees are up in arms for a 72-hour token strike from the night of March 16 across the state to press its demand for implementation of the December 3, 2022 agreement.
The agreement that the employees signed with the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) management before ending the strike in December last year, promises employee welfare and discourages any action related to privatisation.
On Tuesday, power employees took out torch processions in many cities including the state capital as a build-up to the strike after talks between their leaders and energy minister AK Sharma ended in a deadlock. However, their procession was not allowed by the police outside the premises of the Power Corporation in Lucknow.
Shailendra Dubey, Sangharsh Samiti convenor speaking to NewsClick said that all the employees and engineers of energy corporations would proceed on a 72-hour token strike on the night of March 16 as the talks with the energy minister failed on Tuesday.
"More than one lakh power employees will participate in the strike in the state. The UPPCL management alone will be responsible for any untoward incident during the strike," he warned.
Dubey said that the UPPCL was not honouring the agreement signed on December 3. "We have been forced to go on strike for 72 hours after the management of the power corporations is now denying the mutually agreed and signed agreement made on December 3 with power minister Arvind Kumar Sharma and advisor to CM, Awanish Awasthi. The minister had asked for 15 days time to implement it, but it is more than 112 days. It is a malicious violation of established industrial practice," Dubey told NewsClick.
The agreement, according to Dubey, promised, among other things, time-bound pay scales, widening the scope of the cashless treatment facility and putting brakes on any action with regard to privatisation.
Meanwhile, the UPPCL management has made elaborate arrangements to deal with power employees' proposed 72-hour token strike.
Durga Shankar Mishra, Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh asked commissioners and DMs to take strict action against power employees if found creating any problem during the 72-hour strike they had announced.
The Management of Power Corporations has issued a written instruction to all the DMs and SSPs/SPs of the state, imposing a complete ban on all these programs. Instructions say that no power employee should be allowed to participate in any program of the Sangharsh Samiti, and if someone is found participating, strict action will be taken against him under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) immediately.
"The power employees have the democratic right to go on strike in a democratic way to force the management to follow the written agreement done with the Energy Minister," Dubey said.
The protest began last year on November 18 when thousands of power employees and engineers across Uttar Pradesh poured onto the roads in the state capital to protest against the pay anomalies and 'dictatorial attitude of Power Corporation'.
Besides opposing pay anomalies and the 'dictatorial attitude of Power Corporation', the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and regularisation of all outsourced employees were key demands.
However, after the meeting between engineers and other employees of UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) and its management failed to reach a consensus following a month of sit-in protest, the staff started an indefinite strike on November 29, 2022. NewsClick has been following the protest.
The power employees and engineers called off the protest on December 3, 2022, for 15 days after their leaders signed an agreement with power minister Arvind Kumar Sharma and advisor to CM, Awanish Awasthi.
The initiative to end the agitation intensified on the fifth day after the Allahabad High Court summoned Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary (Power) Mahesh Gupta and raised questions about why action was not taken, and issues were not sorted out before a ‘strike’ by employees of the power utilities in Uttar Pradesh, NewsClick has reported earlier.
"Even after the agreement was signed on December 3, the chairman of power corporations is not ready to accept the written agreement of December 03 and his repressive attitude continues. Along with the process of privatisation of transmission sub-stations, the decision to snatch away two new units of 800-800 MW each in Obra and Anpara from the state's Genco, which is like adding fuel to the fire," UP Rajya Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti said in a press statement.
The power employees union has also written in the notice that if any employee is arrested due to the agitation, mass jail bharo agitation and an indefinite strike will start on the same day.
- Meters should not be installed at the houses of working power employees and retired workers.
- The process of privatisation of power generation and transmission should be cancelled immediately.
- The work of construction, operation and maintenance of two units of 800 MW capacity each in Obra and Anpara should be given to UP State Power Generation Corporation instead of NTPC or any other unit.
- The old pension system for electricity workers should be implemented. Contract workers should be regularised like in Telangana and Rajasthan.
WHAT IS THE AGREEMENT?
As per the agreement accessed by NewsClick, Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited staff would be given three promotions after 9, 14 and 19 years of service. There should be no outsourcing for the operation and maintenance of 220 kV, 400 kV and 765 kV power substations and transformer workshops.
The agreement further states that the Power Sector Employees Protection Act would be implemented at the earliest, and facilities for cashless treatment of power staff in government medical institutions would start at the earliest. Arrangements for cashless treatment in private hospitals have to be implemented through bilateral talks.
Meanwhile, the Electricity Employees Federation of India (EEFI) extended its support to the striking employees and called upon all the organisations of electricity employees of the nation to stand firmly in support of the struggling workers of UP and Karnataka. EEFI reiterates that the attitude and attempts of the BJP governments in both states are nothing but the apparent expression of the notorious plan of the Central Government against the power workmen of the country and the people in general.
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