Friday, January 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

UP talks with powermen fail

LUCKNOW, Jan 20 (PTI) — The Uttar Pradesh Government today terminated the services of 208 striking powermen and arrested 5,087 others even as two rounds of tough negotiations with leaders of agitating employees failed to throw up a solution.

The two sides, however, agreed to meet again tomorrow afternoon though the government stuck to its decision to restructure the loss-making state electricity board while the powermen, in a climbdown, wanted the decision to trifurcate the board to be deferred by at least one year.

Emerging from the two-hour second round of talks, the Energy Minister, Mr Naresh Agarwal told reporters here that during the talks the leaders of the striking employees showed “a climb down by demanding that the notification trifurcating the UPSEB be deferred by at least six months.”

This was, however, denied by spokesman of the joint action committee of the employees Shailendra Dubey who maintained “there was no such climbdown.”

Earlier, Mr Dubey had, after the first round of talks in the afternoon, stated that no compromise was possible unless the decision to restructure the board was deferred by one year.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Yogendra Narain told reporters that 10,000 of the striking powermen had rejoined duty and nine of the districts had reported negligible impact of the strike.

In another development, the All-India Power Employees Federation (AIPEF) late tonight threatened to go on a nationwide strike on January 24 if the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh Government failed to resolve the impasse created by the six-day long strike by powermen in that state.

“We have decided to give an ultimatum to the state government and the Centre to resolve the strike by the midnight of January 23,” AIPEF secretary-general Padamjit Singh said in Delhi after the first round of negotiations in Lucknow ended inconclusively.

“Otherwise we will give directions that from the midnight of January 23, power engineers from all over the country will proceed on a day’s strike in support of the UPSEB strike,” he said.

The threat came in the backdrop of the Uttar Pradesh Government terminating the services of 208 striking powermen and arresting 5,087 others even as it engaged in negotiations with leaders of agitating employees.

According to a report from Kolhapur, AIPEF vice president Shrikant Mane said about 25,000 power engineers in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have decided to go on a “wildcat strike” any moment as a show of strength and moral support to the agitating powermen.

In a press note, he condemned the ‘repressive’ measures adopted by the state government and its decision to trifurcate the state electricity board “only to satisfy the World Bank”.

Mane said Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh ruling out privatisation of the state electricity board (MSEB) at a recently held board officials’ annual conference at Wardha stood out as a shining example and “a right step for a bright future”.

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