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Power staff skip talks with minister

Ranchi, Jan. 27: A complete blackout across Jharkhand from February 11 looks imminent with the Coordination Committee of Power Unions skipping a meeting with state energy minister Rajendra Prasad Singh today.

The umbrella organisation of six major unions has already threatened to boycott work from February 11 unless all employees are declared government staff.

In its “strike” notice issued last month, the organisation also demanded that a December 2012 agreement that handed over power distribution in Ranchi and Jamshedpur to private parties be repealed.

The umbrella organisation comprises Power Engineers’ Service Association, Jharkhand State Electric Supply Workers’ Union, Jharkhand Power Workers’ Union, Jharkhand Vidyut Karmachari Sangh, Technical Officers’ Association and Jharkhand United Workers’ Union.

“We had received an invitation for today’s talks with the energy minister but the letter contained no agenda for the meeting. So we gave it a miss,” Prashant Chaturvedi, convener of the umbrella outfit, said.

“Some minor unions did attend the meeting, but we will stay away from work from February 11 unless our demands are met,” he added.

He said the state must take the responsibility for salary and retirement benefits of employees, who were apprehensive about the recent unbundling of Jharkhand State Electricity Board into four independent companies.