Main points of the speech of Shri V.K.S. Parihar, Convenor, Madhya Pradesh United Forum for Electricity Employees and Engineers at the AIFAP meeting on 7 November 2021
We have learnt from our experiences that when we fight individually, the government turns a deaf ear towards our demands. This was the reason we made this united front platform. There are roughly 12 to 13 different organisations with us. In 2017, our biggest struggle was for 7th pay commission. MP has 6 distribution companies and they employ 35000 permanent and 35000 contract/outsourced workers. MP government has never been a workers’ or people’s government.
The state government with the help of the Central government is trying to weaken the power sector so that it can be sold off. We are also fighting against privatisation. Like Pathak ji said, this government is so bad that it doesn’t even want to talk to us. Usually, expertise is given importance. But this government listens only to private sector “experts.”
Central Government employees were offered raise of 8% DA but the MP state government officials did not want to give us this rise in DA. As we did not receive DA order till 26th October 2021, we talked to the management. They said they don’t have money, which is what they say every time. This was a fight for our existence. We gave a three-day notice for strike on 27th October 2021. Salary was due on 30th October 2021. If no DA rise was given, we planned to strike from 1st November 2021. We had a total strike on the first day. On the second day, work was affected very badly. Engineers who were working had to work for 36 hours because the shift engineers participated in the strike. The engineers perform a very crucial role in the distribution of electricity throughout the state. Had they continued in the protest then the entire state’s electricity supply would have come to a halt. So, we were called to meet the officials. They assured us the order for DA will be given by 4 pm on 2nd November 2021. On 3rd November 2021, we received the DA.
This proves that we have more than enough power to make this government bend the knee but in order to do so we need to unite. But sometimes there are problems, such as when union leaders have their own political aims.
If we unite, the government will not dare to privatise. Let us keep in mind that the government will only listen to our demands when we can actually hurt them like we did with our strike. In MP we have seen strikes organised by medical workers, teachers but it doesn’t affect the government directly and thus it never listens to their demands. All the organised sectors need to come together and strike at the same time. This will bring the nation to stand still and the government will be forced to listen.
Pandey ji earlier in this meeting told us about the coal sector. In MP, the government has not given money to discom and coal sectors. They are not giving out the advanced payments to discoms and the government owes Rs 27000 crores to state discoms. If they give this money to discoms, disoms will be able to pay the coal sector. Private companies have earned a lot during the recent power crises and they were charging Rs. 20/unit electricity on the power exchanges.
I agree with Pathak ji of AIDEF, that the government should be voted out. But this is difficult to do for a government employee. But we can show our strength by united action against privatisation. We have seen the condition of BPCL, coal etc. There is no vikas on the ground.
We would like to print the AIFAP booklet by our United Forum and distribute it amongst the masses.
Our submission is that these seminars are important. We should bring all sectors together and decide how to strike together. With our strike, our problems were solved in 2 hours.
I thank AIFAP for this platform. We will continue to join the AIFAP meetings. We can definitely make the government listen. There are many sectors that can force the government to listen within 48 hours. Power sector is listened to only when power supply is stopped. As per the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021, delicensing will be done. This shows that the government has not studied the sector or consulted any experts. MP rural areas are in bad condition. Government is trying to weaken and destroy sectors. We must strategise and plan a joint strike.