March 26, 2023

Electricity Workers of UP Hold Successful 65-hour Strike

THE Electricity Employees Federation of India (EEFI) has congratulated the united struggle of the electricity employees and engineers of Uttar Pradesh for resisting and defying the government’s onslaught and going on a strike against the vindictive termination of its members. Under immense pressure from all corners, UP energy minister Arvind Kumar Sharma, in a joint press conference, has publicly promised to roll back the vindictive terminations. 

The strike action was called by the united forum of all organisations representing electricity employees and engineers of UP – Vidyut Karmachari Samyukt Sangharsh Samiti. The power employees and engineers of Uttar Pradesh have been on the path of struggle since November 2022. On December 3, 2022, a written agreement was signed between Vidyut Karmachari Samyukt Sangharsh Samiti and UP Power Corporation in the presence of Arvind Kumar Sharma with an assurance not to privatise the power assets. 

In a complete retrograde move, the management of the power corporations started denying the mutually agreed and signed agreement and directed to sell out two new 800 MW generation units of Anpara and Opra and related transmission assets currently owned by UPPCL, the state-run UP Power Corporation. It is a malicious violation of established industrial practice. As an expression of discontent and anger, exercising the democratic right, the Sangharsh Samiti of power employees and engineers of UP has resorted to three days of token strike action from March 16.

Around one lakh employees were on strike. The entire UP electricity sector was under the heavy grip of the strike. The generation drastically fell at several power stations like Opra, Anpara, and Parichha. The electricity employees’ united forum has also highlighted the demands of regularising the contractual workers engaged in perennial jobs in the electricity sector, reintroducing the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and rolling back the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022. 

After 65 hours of the valiant strike, the government stepped back. The energy minister announced that the December 3, 2022 agreement would be revisited, and the government will try to implement it in ditto.

At the call of National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE), in thousands of places, electricity workers all across the country took to streets on March 16, 2023 in solidarity and support of the striking UP workers.  

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions, on March 18, condemned the authoritarian moves of the BJP government in the state which resorted to arrests/repression on the peacefully striking employees and engineers of the electricity sector. It called upon the working class and its affiliate unions to organise protest actions throughout the country in solidarity with the striking electricity employees of Uttar Pradesh.