72-hour strike by power employees of Chandigarh from February 22 against privatisation, Feb 11, 2022

Posted On : March 07, 2022

The Electricity employees of Chandigarh under the banner of UT Powermen Union will observe a 72-hour strike from 22 to 24 February to oppose the privatisation of the profit-making electricity department of Chandigarh and have threatened to make it indefinite strike if the government did not change its attitude.

The National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE) vehemently oppose selective privatization with commercially lucrative revenue potential area of distribution utilities and support the strike of Chandigarh power employees.
V K Gupta spokesperson of All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) said that the privitisation of union territories is just a preamble of government policy to privatise the state electricity boards.

The Union Cabinet has approved the highest bidder on January 6 and Chandigarh administration has planned to hand over power department to private company on March 24. It may be mentioned that Chandigarh power employees have already gone on one day strike on February , a joint convention on February 15 with the city's political parties, resident welfare committees , trade unions and social organizations . Further a massive dharna is also scheduled for February 15.

It may be mentioned that the high court on January 20 sought a response from the MUT administration on a fresh plea moved by UT Powermen Union seeking stay on further steps in handing over of power services in Chandigarh to a private company. The next date of hearing is March 6. The sale of 100 per cent of the power department is also one of the points of the petition whereas it is 51 per cent in the case of UT Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The power supply rate in Chandigarh is lowest in comparison to adjoining states because of cheap hydro and thermal power from central projects and a 3 per cent share in the BBMB.

The annual turnover of the department is more than Rs. 1, 000 crores, and the market value of its total assets is Rs. 20, 000–25, 000 crores. This department is being sold for only Rs. 871 crores although it has earned profits of more than Rs. 1, 000 crores in the last 5 years alone. Therefore, there is no justification for privatising the electricity department.

Section 133 of the Electricity Act 2003 makes it compulsory that under the favourable transfer scheme, the service conditions of employees and staff must not be less favourable. The employees fear is that they might lose their jobs and their service conditions may not be protected. The administration has floated a tender enquiry this week for assessing the unfunded terminal liabilities of employees as on tentative transfer date of March 24.