The Telangana electricity contract employees' unions have withdrawn their call for an indefinite strike from December 6, after lengthy discussions with Energy Minister G. Jagadish Reddy and chiefs of power utilities here on Saturday.
The call-off by the Telangana Electricity Trade Unions' Federation (TETUF), a forum of 13 unions, came following Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's direction to top energy officials to explore the possibility of regularising the services of close to 14,000 workers who have put in long years in the utilities.
The Chief Minister, at a review meeting with energy officials on Friday, asked them to search for options to regularise the services of sub-station and field-level workers on humanitarian grounds. Officials, including the CMD of TSGenco and TSTransco D.Prabhakar Rao, briefed Mr.Rao on the perilous circumstances the contract staff of power utilities worked in, and impressed upon him the need to regularise their services.
On Saturday, representatives of two unions, Padma Reddy and E.Sridhar, expressed satisfaction over the Chief Minister's initiative, and announced that they were calling off the strike.
The TETUF had given the strike call, following non-fulfilment of an earlier promise of direct payment of wages, eliminating the outsourcing contractors. There were many other demands too.
While the contract employees in all the four utilities, including TSSPDCL, TSNPDCL, TSTransco, and TSGenco, number about 23,000, it has been agreed upon that 13,800 of them are to be regularised in the first phase, including 8,800 operators in various sub-stations and 5,000 others.
The remaining 10,000 too would be regularised subsequently phase-wise, Mr.Jagadish Reddy announced at a press conference here on Saturday.
However, neither the modalities nor the time frame for regularisation have yet been finalised, though the union representatives expressed the hope that the same would form part of the agreement to be signed eventually.
Power utilities would have to battle with a range of issues for regularisation of contract workers, as recruitments into the companies would have to follow an established procedure. Majority of the contract staff do not match up to the criteria stipulated for recruitment, though they might be far more skilled compared to qualified new entrants.
As per the Supreme Court directions, only 20 per cent weightage is to be given to experience in the recruitment process, Mr.Reddy said on the sidelines of the press conference. The Government was exploring the possibilities of adding 20 per cent more weightage to contract workers by way of any other attribute.
"There is Finance department's sanction for 8,500 new posts, hence we don't have any problem on that front. We will have to figure out a way to fill them with contract employees," Mr.Reddy said.
He urged the workers not to go for strike for other issues too, and solve them by holding consultations with the government.
Source- The Hindu