More than one lakh electricity workers from all over UP went on a 72- hour strike from the night of March 16, under the banner of UP Rajya Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti. The striking workers included engineers, junior engineers, technicians, operating staff, clerical and contractual employees. They boycotted work and held protest actions in many cities across the state, including in the capital Lucknow. Protest actions were reported in Farukhhabad, Muzaffarnagar, Prayagraj. Hardoi, Firozabad, Muradabad, Etah, Varanasi and Rae Bareilly. The power supply remained paralysed in many parts of the state for several hours.
The workers are demanding implementation of the agreement they signed with the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) management before ending their earlier strike on December 3, 2022.
According to Shailendra Dubey, convenor of the Sangharsh Samiti, the agreement had promised, among other things, time-bound pay scales and promotions, widening of the scope of the cashless health care facility for the employees and a stop to any privatisation of electricity transmission and distribution. Other key demands of the electricity workers, that the government had promised to look into, included restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and regularisation of all contractual employees. The government had promised to implement the demands of the electricity workers within 15 days of signing the agreement, but has taken no steps in that direction even after three months.
A press statement issued by the UP Rajya Vidyut Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti pointed out that in blatant violation of its promises, the government has continued the process of privatisation of transmission sub-stations, including two new units of 800-800 MW each in Obra and Anpara which have been taken away from the state’s Genco.
The UP government viciously attacked the striking workers. It issued orders banning the strike. Arrest orders were issued against all the office bearers of the Sangharsh Samiti. The government invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against 22 striking workers. The UP government lodged an FIR against 29 workers. The services of 1,332 contract workers have been terminated. All contract workers have been threatened that they will be dismissed if found supporting the strike.
Undeterred by these threats and warnings, the UP electricity workers militantly carried out their three day strike action.
At the call of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE), about 27 electricity sector workers from many different states across the country extended support to the strike by organising various protest actions.