UPPCL Strike: Govt Orders Arrest of Union Leaders, Sacks 1,332 Outsourced Employees
Lucknow: A total of 1,332 outsourced power staff at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) were on Friday sacked by the authorities for participating in a strike as they demanded regularisation of pay, widening the scope of cashless treatment facility, fulfilment of certain criteria for the chairman selection process, and regularisation of contract workers.
Service of at least 550 employees of Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam, 348 in Madhyanchal, 232 in Paschimanchal and 202 in Dakshinanchal was ended on the first day of the strike, UPPCL chairman M Devraj said.
Apart from this, notices have also been served to the agencies. The chairman said that a First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged against the firm's general manager and supervisors in many cities for not being able to make its employees available on duty amid the strike.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation issued notices to 18 office-bearers of various organisations, including Shailendra Dubey, asking them to call off the strike immediately, citing the Allahabad High Court order.
The energy minister, AK Sharma, had threatened earlier to invoke the National Security Act (NSA) if any discom property was found damaged during the strike.
According to the government, Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited is facing a direct loss of about Rs 150 crores every day.
The appeal for the strike had come in the wake of the UP Rajya Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti’s call for a 72-hour strike from midnight of March 16 to press for the implementation of the December 3 agreement.
"It is a shameful act and murder of democracy that despite our mutual agreement with minister Sharma regarding our demands, the government has ordered the arrest of workers and leaders," Dubey told NewsClick, adding that the power employees have not damaged any property, “instead it was a peaceful strike,” he said.
Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government has ordered the arrest of 22 leaders of Sangharsh Samiti including its convenor Shailendra Dubey. Action under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) is to be initiated against them.
In response, UP Rajya Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti has decided to turn the three-day strike into an indefinite strike.
The strike has affected thermal power generation and five units with an installed capacity of 1,850 MW were shut down.
Dubey said that the power grid had also been affected as several transmission lines tripped on Friday leading to a power outage in large parts of Eastern UP and Bundelkhand.
With the tripping of transmission lines, the power distribution sub-stations of 33/11 kV were also rendered non-functional.
Dubey said two units of 210 MW each at Anpara thermal power station, two units of 200 MW each at Obra and two units of 210 MW each at Parichha and many other units had to be shut down due to strike. He claimed that 1,850 MW of thermal power generation was affected.
Blaming the government for the strike, Dubey claimed the government in December last year had agreed to the change in the selection process of the chairman and the managing director of the power companies. He said as per the mutual consensus, it was decided that the chairman and the MD would be selected through a committee headed by the chief secretary.
Even after three months of the decision, these posts are now being filled on the basis of transfers, Dubey said.
He added that apart from the selection of top officials, the government also agreed to the implementation of the Power Sector Employees' Protection Act, stopping the outsourcing of operation and maintenance of power sub-stations for transmission, equal honorarium for different corporations and revision of allowances and removal of salary anomalies.
Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited is working on a project to bring down line losses to 12%-15% by 2024-25 and strengthen the power distribution network across the state. All the distribution corporations of the state are running with a loss of Rs 1 lakh crore. However, the corporation has estimated a loss to the tune of Rs 450 crore due to the strike.
Several rounds of talks, including back channels between UP Rajya Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti and the power department, have failed. Till 4 pm on Saturday, 686 feeders across five discoms remained shut, affecting over 20 lakh consumers, mostly in rural areas.
Meanwhile, taking serious note of the ongoing strike, the Allahabad High Court on Friday began contempt proceedings against the union leaders and issued a warrant asking them to appear before it on Monday.
Hearing a PIL, a division bench comprising Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Vinod Diwaker directed that considering the urgency of the matter, bailable warrants be issued against the office bearers of the Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukt Sangarsh Samiti through its organiser Shailendra Dubey and several others, requiring their presence before the court at 10 am on March 20.
The court also directed the state authorities concerned to ensure that appropriate action as may be permissible by law be taken against the erring officials/employees to ensure compliance with the previous orders passed by the court on December 6, 2022. The order had directed that there will be no disruption of power supply in the state.
Fixing March 20 as the next date, the court directed the state government to report compliance with the action taken in the matter by then.
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