This March, employees of power sector Uttar Pradesh take a out a protest rally while employees of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) have given a call for an indefinite strike.
In Uttar Pradesh, the power sector employees have decided to take out a massive protest rally in the capital city of Lucknow on 14 March against the privatisation of electricity distribution.
They will be protesting against both the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014, which seeks to extend privatisation to power distribution, as well as the state government’s move to privatise distribution in seven districts. The electricity employees in the state have come together under the banner of UP Power Employees’ Joint Action Committee.
The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014 proposes to bifurcate the distribution function into carriage and supply. So while a government company would lay down the wires, private companies would compete over selling the electricity to consumers and earn profits.
Power employees across the country have been opposing the Bill, which the government might try to pass in the ongoing Parliament session, under the banner of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE).
However, the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) has gone a step ahead and already floated tenders in seven districts — Etawah, Kannauj, Orai, Rae Bareli, Saharanpur, Mau and Ballia — inviting the private companies that will be called ‘Integrated Service Providers’ (ISPs). The ISPs are supposed to take over the activities of giving out new power connections, installing the meter, meter reading, changing the meter, issuing bills and collecting the revenue. Meanwhile, the maintenance of the network infrastructure will be done by the government.
Shailendra Dubey of UP Power Employees’ Joint Action Committee and NCCOEEE said if and when the BJP-led NDA government tabled the Bill in the ongoing session of Parliament, the same day power employees across UP and everywhere else in the country will go on strike.
In Bengaluru, the Metro Rail employees under the Bangalore Metro Rail Employees Union have decided to go on an indefinite strike from March 22 unless the management addresses their demands.
Besides higher pay and night-duty allowance, their main demand is that the BMRCL recognise the employees’ Union, with which nearly 900 of the 1,200 Metro employees in the city are affiliated. They are also demanding the implementation of the Third Pay Commission for public sector employees as well as payment of allowance for night duty.
On 9 March, more than 70 employees accompanied the union leaders for a briefing to the media. The Union printed 10,000 leaflets to be distributed among the public to explain the reasons behind the upcoming strike and the resultant halt in the Metro train operations.