Kerala, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, West Bengal reported huge participation of electricity employees in the nationwide strike of workers and farmers on February 3, 2021, to decry the anti-people policies of the Government of India.
According to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, (CITU), “Participation was varying between 100 percent and 25 percent. In Kerala and Chandigarh it was 100 percent. In Tamil Nadu, Haryana, it was 80 percent. West Bengal had 70 percent participation while Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam reported 60 percent participation. Other states had around 40 to 50 percent participation.”
CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen said that the power sector engineers participated in the work boycott and demonstration in huge numbers. Some regions also undertook day long protest demonstrations.
The strike put forward four main demands of the peasantry, namely:
Scrapping of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Standard Bidding document to prevent privatisation of electricity distribution.
Withdrawal of electricity privatisation in states and union territories and cancellation of all existing private Licenses and Franchises in the power sector.
Reintegration of electricity generation, transmission and distribution in all states and union territories following the successful system in Kerala and Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd.
Repeal of the three Farm laws.
The CITU said the strike is the result of continued agitation, campaign and propaganda led by the apex forum of electricity employees called the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees & Engineers (NCCOEEE) composed of Federations of Trade Unions affiliated to CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC, INTUC and LPF.
Further, it said the grand success of the strike reflected the anger and concern of electricity employees following the Budget presented in Parliament on February 2. Workers’ leaders said it emphasised the central government’s “disastrous resolve to break the electricity distribution activities” into fragmented entities.
“The determination of the electricity employees demonstrated in the strike action and the unity achieved through the united Platform (NCCOEEE) must be strengthened further to carry forward the battle against privatisation in the spirit of ‘Defy and Resist,’” said Sen.
Members said that the solidarity action by electricity employees with the fighting peasantry demanding Repeal of three farm laws and Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 must be intensified. They further stated that the movement should widen further to include electricity consumers, who will be the worst sufferers due to privatization of the electricity sector.
Later in the day, the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) extended its support to the strike across the country.
“We strongly oppose the privatization of the electricity sector. The Draft Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 is an attack on farmers as well as other citizens,” said SKM leaders.