Powered up: A JSEB transformer in Mango. File picture
Jamshedpur, Oct. 8: Over 4,000 Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) employees, under the banner of Jharkhand Rajya Bijli Kamgar Union, will launch an indefinite strike from November 6 against the state government’s decision to outsource maintenance and other services to private firms.
Central committee members of the power board’s largest union took this decision at a meeting in Dhanbad last evening.
Union general secretary Ram Krishna Singh confirmed this to The Telegraph over phone from Ranchi. “We strongly oppose the government’s decision to invite a private franchisee to maintain the distribution of assets in Ranchi and Jamshedpur. Instead of pumping in money to strengthen JSEB’s ailing units, the government is relying on private firms for infrastructure maintenance, power generation and distribution. Outsourcing will lead to power tariff hikes,” said Singh.
Manpower shortage and the inability of the power board staff to cater to line faults on time has forced JSEB to hand over line maintenance to franchisees.
The experiment is to begin in November with Ranchi and Jamshedpur with CESC and Tata Power.
“Big companies can handle many problems efficiency,” said a senior JSEB official based at Ranchi headquarters.
Earlier, the board engaged a private firm for meter reading at homes.
Not buying that logic, an adamant Singh also sounded the alarm bell for Puja revellers.
“If the outsourcing notification in Ranchi and Jamshedpur is issued before Puja, we will have no option but to enforce a total disruption in power supply even during the festival,” he said.
Jharkhand Rajya Bijli Kamgar Union, the Left-supported union of JSEB employees, had observed a three-day strike from September 25 to 27 to press their demands but talks with power board authorities remained inconclusive. Fearing privatisation and threat to their jobs, contractual and man-day workers of power the board had also held a 72-hour token strike on those days.
Office bearers and members of the union also met in Ranchi yesterday to discuss their proposed strike from November 6. “Apart from the outsourcing issue, we have a 28-point charter of demands related to employee welfare,” said Singh.