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TN: Electricity Workers Hold Hunger Strike, Say Scrap E-Tender’

Sruti MD |
Union demanded the state to identify contract employees who have been working with the TNEB for more than 15 years and regularise their employment.
The protest held by  electricity board workers in Chennai on October 21

The protest held by  electricity board workers in Chennai on October 21

The office bearers and executive committee members of the Central Organisation of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Employees (COTEE) held a one-day token protest on Friday. They demanded the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) to withdraw the e-tender notification to hire workers through a third party.

Additionally, the union demanded the state to identify contract employees who have been working with the TNEB for more than 15 years and regularise their employment. Filling the increasing vacancies is another important demand of COTEE.

Although the union welcomed the wage revision, they criticised the state for delaying arrears sanctioned on 1 December 2019.

Ahead of the hunger strike, TNEB workers affiliated with COTEE held protests at district headquarters across Tamil Nadu between October 20 and 26. Protests were held in Chennai, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Nagapattinam, Perambalur and other places.

As the next level move, the joint action committee (JAC) has called for a protest on November 2.


The e-tender for hiring ground-level workers is a move towards privatisation, observes COTEE. The union demands the board keep the existing method of hiring contract workers and provide them with a daily wage of Rs 587.

“The tender is to fill four types of initial-level workers per sector, and a contractor will overlook them. They will not come under the direct purview of the electricity board,” said COTEE president T Jaisankar.

“The initial-level workers are those who directly engage with consumers; they check faults, do maintenance work and carry out service. So, if the vacancies are filled, we can ensure work without delays and mental stress, and that way ensures quality, hassle-free electricity supply,” he said.

“There are 32,500 vacancies in these initial-level positions of work. Overall, there are around 62,000 vacancies,” he added.


S Rajendran, general  secretary of COTEE, said, “The growing vacancies have increased the burden on existing workers.”

 “No efforts were taken by the board in the past four years to fill these vacancies. Only 10,000 gangmen were hired, not for existing work but for expansion and other work,” he said.

Jaishankar pointed out the increasing number of accidents and fatalities on the ground-level workers and said, “They lose their limbs, their organs get burnt internally. The electricity board has no respect for human life and emotions.”

“The TNEB has a yearly profit of Rs 375 crore. Use these funds to give employment to the youth of the state and to regularise existing contract workers. Do not use it to outsource work and give funds to the privates,” said Rajendran.


The electricity workers’ union accused the electricity board and the Tamil Nadu government of bypassing the law and not hiring workers based on the Industrial Disputes Act.

“We do not directly work for the government. We are hired on contract per the Industrial Disputes Act and have the respective benefits. But no hiring is done as per the act these days,” said Jaishankar.

“We are stuck. We don’t have the equipment; there are not enough workers. How can we continue like this? That is why we are holding continuous protests and strikes,” he said.

Moreover, regarding the delay in arrears, he said, “We were promised wage revision arrears in two batches. We were supposed to receive the last batch in December 2022, then in June 2023, later in July and latest in August, but we have still not received it.”

COTEE has also raised a critical voice against the TNEB for no longer, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, discussing bonuses with the union representatives and unanimously taking decisions.


Ahead of Deepavali, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced a bonus and ex-gratia for over 2.83 lakh eligible employees and workers of state-run public sector undertakings (PSUs) for 2022-23. The State exchequer would incur an expenditure of Rs 402.97 crore.

The percentage of bonus is as per the demand of the Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) affiliated unions. The unions held a protest on Thursday demanding a 20% bonus for employees of the PSUs, such as the union of workers in transport, electricity board, TASMAC, co-operatives, drinking water and drainage board and consumer goods trade corporation.

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