Patna, Aug. 31: The state would face a virtual blackout next month if employees of power companies go ahead with a proposed strike.
Engineers and employees from grades I to IV of all power companies have planned to go on an indefinite strike from September 25 to press their long-pending demands and protest over the appointment of distribution franchisees in prominent cities of the state. Right from chief engineers to peons, there would be no one in the power companies to run operations.
However, before going on the strike, the unions would hold a demonstration in front of the companies’ headquarters in Patna on September 13 to protest against their decision to outsource work and appoint distribution franchisees in various cities among others.
“The strike implies complete blackout in the state from September 25. If our demands are not met, the people will have to face a situation similar to February 2007,” said Amarendra Mishra, general secretary, Bihar Jharkhand Rajya Vidyut Parishad Field Kamgar Union.
Apart from stiff opposition to privatisation of distribution network, the unions have upped their ante against the companies’ decisions that included frequent dismissal, suspension, transfer, withholding of increment of engineers and employees apart from altering their service conditions.
“A memorandum containing various demands and other issues on which we have reservations was (on Saturday) submitted to Sandeep Poundrik, energy secretary-cum-chairman-cum-managing director of Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Ltd. If the management does not redress our concerns and grievances, then we would hold a daylong state-level demonstration in the capital to press for our demands on September 13,” said Ashwani Kumar, general secretary, Power Engineers Service Association (Pesa), an organisation of power officials.
Asked what if their demands are not met, Ashwani said: “We will resort to the path of an indefinite strike from September 25. Both the decisions, demonstration on September 13 and indefinite strike from September 25, have been taken in a joint meeting of all the unions under the banner of Vidyut Kamgar, Padadhikari, Abhiyanta Sanyukta Sangharsh Morcha.”
Ashwani said the morcha has demanded removal of North Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd managing director Sanjay Kumar Agrawal whose misbehaviour with officials have affected the work.
When contacted, Agrawal said: “We have been taking some steps to improve the situation. The work pressure has gone up and that’s why they (power unions) are talking in such a manner.” Last year, a strike by the then Bihar State Electricity Board officials and employees was averted after the government assured them that their service conditions and pensionary benefits would not be changed.