Lucknow: The striking Uttar Pradesh electricity department employees on Friday claimed that their strike has hit power distribution in the state but the government said the situation is under control and warned those damaging power lines of strict action.
Power Minister AK Sharma blamed the 72-hour strike that began at 10 pm on Thursday on some “irresponsible” leaders of the electricity department and said it was not in the interest of the employees. He said there have been reports of some employees trying to harm the power infrastructure, citing an incident from Deoria where someone threw sugarcane to damage a power line.
“I have tweeted pictures and videos of the same,” he said. “Those responsible will be found and strict action will be taken against them.”
The employees have sought Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s intervention to end the “atmosphere of confrontation”. They say some of their demands, which relate to “pay anomalies” and outsourcing of operation and maintenance of power sub-stations, agreed by the government in December last year, have not been fulfilled by power corporations even after three months.
Shailendra Dubey, the convenor of Vidyut Karmacharis Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, a union of electricity department employees, said in a statement on Friday that the employees had to go on strike “because of the stubborn attitude” of the top management of energy corporations.
He claimed five thermal power units in Anpara, Obra and Parichha power plants have come to a halt even after the government made employees not participating in the strike to work extra hours.
About 1 lakh employees are participating in the strike, according to Dubey. However, Sharma assured “we are in a comfortable situation both in generation and supply”.
“I feel this strike is neither in the interest of power employees nor their associations. It is guided by some other reasons. Some irresponsible leaders of the power organisations are responsible for the strike,” Sharma told reporters.
“We had explained everything to them, had taken steps in employee interest which had not been taken earlier. Yet they went on strike because of their ‘hathdharmita’ (stubborn attitude) and we are taking all steps to deal with it,” he added.
Sharma appealed to people and their representatives to cooperate in identifying those obstructing government work and ensure that employees willing to work are not harmed. He claimed that some employee associations have extended support to the government.
Last evening, the government said it will act against the employees under ESMA and the National Security Act if they indulged in vandalism. The government also warned contractual workers to return to work or they would be sacked.
Dubey has said that the government and the employees had agreed on some points on December 23 last year but those points have not been implemented yet. He claimed that 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, and revision of allowances and removal of salary anomalies, he added.
Referring to the accusation of delay in implementing the agreement, the power minister said it has been only three months, citing a 2020 agreement which has yet not been implemented fully. “But they appeared to be in a big hurry and went on a strike,” he said.
Sharma explained that the power corporation has been incurring losses and the employees should help in improving the financial condition. “We have sought some time and asked them to help in collecting revenue and then we will do whatever we can in the interest of employees,” he said.
The employees have sought Chief Minister Adityanath’s intervention to find a solution and end the confrontation. Dubey said, “The strike is not our aim, an agreement was reached with the power minister on December 3, 2022, which the power corporation administration is refusing to comply with.”
Meanwhile, a private electrician was seriously injured while working on an electric pole in Ballia. He was rushed to the district hospital but was later referred to a Varanasi hospital, an official said in Ballia.