Down with Andhra Pradesh Government for clamping down ESMA on power sector workers
Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee Correspondent
Andhra Pradesh State Power Employees Joint Action Committee (APSPE JAC) leaders met with the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government officials on 8th August but the talks failed to reach a conclusion.
While on the one hand the state government is making a show of holding discussions, on the other hand it has already started resorting to coercive measures. It has started issuing threats to contractors who supply contract workers and also the leasers of APSPE JAC. On 5th August government issued a notification banning any strike in AP power sector by exercising its powers under the provisions of A.P. Essential Services Maintenance Act 1971. The notification declares that if the contract workers go on strike or in any manner cause abstention from work or abets or incite or instigate other workers to abstain from their work, then under the draconian act such actions will be termed to be illegal. The notification further states that offence under this act shall be punishable with imprisonment ranging from six months to one year or with fine or with both. It also instructs contractors to dismiss such workers and never engage them again for any work in AP power sector!
The government which did not find time to expeditiously discuss and settle various justifiable demands of workers, lost no time in clamping down with the draconian Act. In Andhra Pradesh this Act was passed in 1971. Since then, Indian National Congress, Telugu Desam Party and now YSR Congress Party have been in power. All of them have used the draconian act to suppress struggles of workers of various sectors. It is once again becoming crystal clear that only the working people of our country have duty to ensure delivery of “Essential services” no matter what oppression and exploitative conditions they have to bear, whereas governments have no duty to ensure delivery of these “Essential services” except for crushing the just struggles of workers! Different versions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act have been used in last 2-3 years by state governments of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc. against power sector workers.
NTR district Police commissioner declared that in Vijaywada city section 144 has been imposed thus prohibiting any gatherings or protests. He also threatened that police would take stringent action against the protestors under various provisions of Indian Penal Code.
However, the entire workforce of around 37,000 regular employees, 23,500 contractual workers, 4,500 piece rated meter readers of AP Power sector declared their resolve to stand up for their rights by organizing huge demonstrations in Vijaywada. Power sector workers organizations all over the country including All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF),National Co-ordination Committee Of Electricity Employees and Engineers(NCCOEEE), All India Federation of Electricity Employees and many other workers organizations including Kamgar Ekta Committee have declared their support to the just struggle of AP Power sector workers and denounced the AP government for promulgating ESMA.