Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
The office bearers and executive committee members of the Central Organisation of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Employees (COTEE) held a one-day token protest on 21 October to demand the withdrawal of Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) e-tender notification to hire workers through a third party.
Further, they demanded the state to identify contract employees who have been working with the TNEB for more than 15 years and regularise them as permanent workers.
The COTEE believes that the e-tender for hiring ground-level workers is a move towards privatisation.
The COTEE also asked that the vacancies must be filled which have been increasing in numbers year after year. “The tender is to fill four types of initial-level workers per sector, and a contractor will overlook them. They will not come under the direct purview of the electricity board,” said COTEE president T Jaisankar.
“The initial-level workers are those who directly engage with consumers; they check faults, do maintenance work and carry out service. So, if the vacancies are filled, we can ensure work without delays and mental stress, and that way ensures quality, hassle-free electricity supply. There are 32,500 vacancies in these initial-level positions of work. Overall, there are around 62,000 vacancies,” he added.
“There are increasing number of accidents and fatalities of the ground-level workers. They lose their limbs, their organs get burnt internally. The electricity board has no respect for human life and emotions.”
S Rajendran, General Secretary of COTEE, said, “The growing vacancies have increased the burden on existing workers.”
Ahead of the hunger strike, TNEB workers affiliated with COTEE held protests at district headquarters across Tamil Nadu between October 20 and 26. Protests were held in Chennai, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Nagapattinam, Perambalur and other places.