On Monday, the members of trade unions resorted to sit-in protest blocking the entrance of the Tangedco headquarters. Tension prevailed at the headquarters when the protesting workers blocked Chairman and Managing Director Pankaj Kumar Bansal’s car from entering the premises.
Electricity Minister P Thangamani rushed to Tangedco HQ and invited the trade union representatives for talks. However, refusing to relent, they sought immediate scrapping of the orders failing which they would continue the protest indefinitely. “We will scrap the orders to engage contract workers to attend the maintenance in the sub-division offices of the distribution wing,” the Minister told reporters.
However, Thangamani questioned the motives of the trade unions and blamed them for misleading the public. “I had already denied the reports of privatisation. We decided to issue a work contract for engaging workers in the sub-division offices where 50 per cent of the lineman and field assistant posts are vacant. It was done mainly to ensure uninterrupted power supply and attend to the consumer complaints,” he said.
Noting that the trade unions have obtained a stay from the court against the appointment of 15,000 persons in gangman post, he added: “If the case is withdrawn tomorrow, we will give jobs to 10,000 persons initially, and 5,000 more in January.” But COTEE general secretary S Rajendran denied the Minister’s charges on the gangman recruitment. “It was wrong on the part of the management to go ahead with the gangman recruitment process even as a case was pending in the Madras High Court,” he said.
Citing the large number of vacant posts, the Tangedco had decided on December 16 to engage contract workers in its distribution circles to carry out maintenance works, including attending to consumer faults and replacement of defective meters. The decision came close on the heels of the decision to outsource maintenance of substation, high tension lines and small hydropower stations.