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UP Power Workers Protest FIRs Lodged During 3-day Strike

Employees joint forum threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if the cases are not withdrawn by April 2.
UP Power Workers Protest FIRs Lodged During 3-day Strike

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Flickr

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh (UP) power employees, including engineers, demonstrated for two hours across the state under the banner of their new joint forum on Tuesday to demand withdrawal of cases lodged under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against the staff and their leaders during the recent 72-hour strike.

The joint forum, Rajya/Nigam/Nikay Karmchari Sanyukt Manch, consisting of 25 state employees organisations, Rajya Karmachari Mahasangh, Rajya Karmachari Sanyukt Parishad, staff of civic bodies, universities, Central and state government employee unions, and trade unions participated in the demonstration in support of power employees.

The forum threatened to launch a state-wide agitation by more than 18 lakh employees if the cases are not withdrawn by April 2.

“More than lakh state employees demonstrated in their respective departments from 12 pm to 2 pm and handed over a memorandum to the district administration to withdraw cases against power staff,” forum convener Amarnath Yadav told Newsclick.

“It is unfortunate that despite power minister Arvind Kumar Sharma instructing UPPCL [Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited] chairperson M Devraj to withdraw the FIRs, and suspension and termination orders, no steps have been taken, which shows the state government’s intention,” he added.

The forum urged chief minister Yogi Adityanath to address its demands, including the implementation of the December 3 agreement and the withdrawal of legal cases against employees in a time-bound manner.

A large number of power employees also gathered at Sarojini Naidu Park, Lucknow, to participate in Virodh Sabha organised by the forum. The leaders submitted a memorandum to the district administration listing the demands.

Shailendra Dubey, convener of UP Rajya Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, told Newsclick that the UPPCL chairman “refuses to follow” Sharma’s instructions.

“On December 19, the minister announced that all cases, including under ESMA, will be withdrawn soon. But the UPPCL management continues to take action against us,” he added.

“The management even constituted a committee identifying employees who participated in the strike to take fresh action against them. They are in no mood to roll back the legal action. The forum will soon decide the next course of action if the cases are not withdrawn by April 2,” he further added.

Protesting power employees, who were on a 72-hour strike from the midnight of March 16 to press for the implementation of the December 3 agreement had agreed to call it off prematurely on March 19 after Sharma

assured them of undoing the penal action and the termination of 1,332 contractual workers.

In a meeting where top UPPCL officials and power employees and their leaders were present, Sharma had also promised to “look into their demands” and take “meaningful” action to implement the December 3 agreement.

Adopting a tough stance, however, the UPPCL allegedly served notices to many power employees and their leaders in disproportionate assets cases for joining 72-hour strike, called by the Samiti.

A committee under Devraj’s supervision was constituted to inquire about the property of engineers and power employees, especially those who participated in the strike, and action will be taken, in case, of the discovery of disproportionate assets.

The Income Tax Department will assist the UPPCL in inquiring about disproportionate assets. Property purchased by power employees in the name of relatives and close friends will also be probed. A list of more than two hundred staff members has been made, including leaders of junior engineer organisations, unions and employee organisations.

“The management wants to suppress the genuine voice of protesting employees. We do not have any issue with the probe as we don’t possess illegal wealth,” Dubey said.

Another power employee requesting anonymity told Newsclick that both Sharma and Devraj were “on camera agreeing to withdraw all the cases and implement the December 3 agreement”.

“After we called off the strike following the assurance, the management is finding new ways to harass and intimidate us. We are not afraid of any investigation,” he added.

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