Kamgar Ekta Committee, Bhartiya Mahila Federation, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation and Maharashtra Rajya Veej Karmachari, Abhiyanta, Adhikari Sangharsh Samiti began a public campaign on 10th December 2022 in Thane district against the proposals of the Maharashtra government for privatization of distribution and generation of power and against the Electricity Amendment) Bill 2022 (EAB 2022).
It must be noted that the Maharashtra government has proposed to give parallel licenses to Adani power to distribute power in the urban industrial belt from Thane to Uran, to Torrent in Pune and Nagpur and to Tata in Vasai and Palghar.
As part of the campaign, thousands of copies of a joint leaflet (See PDF) were distributed to the residents of Thane. People expressed surprise at the fact that that they were completely unaware of the government proposal. They expressed their opposition to the moves of the government to privatise electricity distribution.
Over the years, privatisation has been carried out by giving all sorts of false justifications, maligning the public sector workers, and by hiding the disastrous consequences of privatisation for society. People are kept in the dark about the real aims of privatization. The joint campaign against electricity privatization initiated by the Kamgar Ekta Committee and other organisations is exposing the real aims and false claims of the government amongst the masses of people.
Electricity workers of Maharashtra been carrying on a militant struggle against privatization of electricity distribution in the state.
In a letter dated 9th December 2022 addressed to the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, a joint committee of 30 organizations, Maharashtra Rajya Veej Karmachari, Adhikari, Abhiyante Sangharsh Samiti declared their resolve to block these moves of the Maharashtra government. They also expressed their opposition to:
- Reported plans of the Maharashtra government to form a separate company for distributing electricity to agriculture consumers
- Handing over of State government owned Hydroelectric power plants to private companies
- Policy of not filling up tens of thousands of vacancies of permanent workers and instead giving the work on contract or outsourcing basis
- Handing over operation of new sub-stations to private contractors, etc.
The electricity workers announced a month-long agitation programme culminating to indefinite strike in January 2023.
Workers held gate meetings on 12th and 16th December across Maharashtra at every distribution, transmission and generation centre. Thousands participated in these gate meetings in big cities like Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Nasik, Sangli, Satara, Solapur, Buldhana, Akola, Amravati, Chandrapur, Latur etc. and also in small towns like Padagha, Mokhade, Koradi, Akluj, Pachora, etc.
The electricity workers submitted a memorandum to MLA’s and MP’s, Zilla Parishad and Nagar Panchayat members and Chairpersons, asking them to oppose privatisation.
It is a fact that all the parties of the bourgeoisie are in favour of privatisation of the power sector, even though, when in opposition, they claim to oppose privatisation. This is because the program of electricity privatisation is a program of the entire bourgeois class, headed by the monopoly capitalists. The struggle against privatisation of power sector is therefore a struggle of the entire working class and people of the country, against the capitalist class. This is why, the decision of Maharashtra RajyaVeej Karmachari, Adhikari, Abhiyante Sangharsh Samiti, to join hands with Kamgar Ekta Committee and other organisations to rally the masses of people and their organisations in the struggle against privatisation is significant. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana has declared its support to the struggle.
Power sector workers have also started a non-cooperation struggle with the management from 19th December. They have announced that a massive demonstration will be held on 23rd December outside the Vidhan Sabha in Nagpur. In the letter to the Chief Minister they have informed their decision to strike work for 72 hours starting 4th January 2023 and to go on an indefinite strike beginning 18th January 2023.
The struggle of power sector workers of Maharashtra against privatisation of power distribution is in the interests of society. The mass campaign launched by Kamgar Ekta Committee, the Bharatiya Mahila Federation, the Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation and Maharashtra Rajya Veej Karmachari, Abhiyanta, Adhikari Sangharsh Samiti to mobilise people against privatization of electricity distribution deserves the full support of the working class and people.