UP electricity dept employees threaten to go on strike from 10 pm tonight, govt threatens to invoke ESMA

Electricity department employees of Uttar Pradesh have announced a three-day strike starting Thursday night over the selection process for chairman and the managing director in power companies and other issues, including “pay anomalies”.

Taking a tough stand, the government said if the strike creates problems for the public, the government will take action against the protesting employees under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and warned of sacking contractual workers who do not return to work.

It also said action would be initiated under the National Security Act in case vandalism occurs during demonstrations. The employees began their protest under the umbrella of Vidyut Karmacharis Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, a union of electricity department employees, on Wednesday and held demonstrations across the state on Thursday.

About 1 lakh employees would participate in the strike starting at 10 pm, Samiti Convenor Shailendra Dubey told PTI.
Dubey said the government and the employees had agreed on some points on December 23 last year but several of those have not been implemented even after three months.

He claimed the government had agreed that the chairman and the managing director of the power companies would be selected through a committee headed by the chief secretary but these posts are now being filled on the basis of transfers.

Some other points of the agreement yet to be fulfilled are implementation of the Power Sector Employees Protection Act, stopping outsourcing of operation and maintenance of power sub-stations for transmission, equal honorarium for different corporations, revision of allowances and removal of salary anomalies, he said.

The samiti office-bearers say the employees were forced to go on strike because of the “stubbornness” of the top management of energy corporations. Those who would go on strike include engineers, junior engineers, technicians, operating staff, clerical and contractual employees, they added.

In a late evening press conference, State Energy Minister Arvind Kumar Sharma took a tough stand regarding the strike.

He said if the contractual employees join the strike, they will be sacked. In view of the strike, an alert has been declared across the state. Many employees want to work. If someone stops the power workers from working then action will be taken against such people and if any damage is caused during the strike then action will also be taken under NSA.

The government has made arrangements to keep the state’s electricity system in order, he added.

The power minister said that the government is in talks with the group which has announced the strike.

“We even held a meeting with them today for two hours but they are not ready to listen,” Sharma said.

“However, the government has still kept the door open for talks,” he added.

“He said that the government has taken action on many points of the agreement signed with the electricity workers on December 3. Rest of the points are also being discussed,” he said.

On the other hand, Dubey said after about 23 years, a complete strike of electricity department employees is taking place in the state.

Earlier, employees of emergency services were exempted from boycotting work on different occasions, but this time all
1 lakh employees will participate in the strike, he said.

As per the plan, the employees on strike will boycott work in their respective departments as part of the strike.
Dubey said on the call of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE), about 27 lakh electricity department employees from across the country have extended support to the strike.