Unite to Oppose the Anti-Social Step of Privatisation!
Worker Brothers and Sisters!
We stand in support of your just struggle to stop the privatisation of electricity distribution in Kalwa and Mumbra as well as against the restructuring plan that the authorities unilaterally want to impose on you workers of MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Colt.).
We are aware that the restructuring plan that the authorities want to push through puts the jobs of everyone from engineers to linesmen and office staff at risk. It is indeed very positive that workers from various categories, irrespective of union and party affiliations, have come together in this struggle. This unity is very precious. It must be guarded with great care because the authorities will try every trick to break it.
Brothers and Sisters!
You fought hard to prevent the Government of Maharashtra from breaking the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) into three separate entities, Power Generation, Power Transmission and Power Distribution. You had realized that government had two motives. One was to break unity of MSEB employees by splitting them into three entities and the second was to make the Power sector attractive for capitalists. The Generation sector was soon thrown open to capitalists by claiming that state electricity boards were inefficient power generators. Many capitalists who invested in generation found they were not able to make the expected profits so they turned these companies sick and some of them have even asked the government to take them over. Capitalists are now refusing to repay loans they had taken from public sector banks. This means that thousands of crores of public money will be lost! We together must make workers of other sectors and citizens aware of these bitter facts.
The capitalists have their greedy gaze on Power distribution which has the maximum opportunity of making profits. Government propaganda is trying to pit citizens against you by making them believe that the workers of the state-owned power sector are not doing their duty properly and hence citizens suffer. It further claims that privatization of distribution will serve the citizens better by making it more efficient. You have all the information to prove to citizens that all this propaganda is a big lie! We must tell citizens about the bitter experience of privatization of distribution in Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Nagpur and Bhiwandi.
In Bhiwandi, where the electricity distribution was gifted to Torrent Company, electricity rates soared, driving it out of reach of many users. Users had to pay arbitrary high expenses for changing electricity meters. These meters run faster than the actual consumption. As a result many people have got unimaginably high bills, which they are unable to pay. And what happens when they can’t pay? Their power supply is cut. Complaints may or may not be heeded at all. It is reported that Torrent has been aided to the tune of crore rupees (of people’s money, of course) by the government and yet it has not paid dues to the Bhiwandi Municipal Corporation. It is believed that since Torrent employs untrained contract workers for doing skilled work, more than 150 contract workers have died of electric shock while doing their work. This tragedy has been hushed up. We must make citizens, particularly of Mumbra and Kalwa aware of these facts!
Brothers and Sisters!
We together must expose to the citizens how the State government has deliberately wrecked the Power sector. First and foremost fresh capital investment was stopped even to maintain existing assets in good health. As a result critical equipment like Generators, Transformers, Capacitor banks, etc. are in bad shape, contributing to huge amount of electricity losses. Similarly the recruitment of workers has been stopped. Against a sanctioned strength of 97000 workers there are only 66000 working! Untrained workers were introduced on a contract basis which led to further fall in efficiency and safety. At the same time, crores of rupees of unpaid electricity bills of big industrial houses and businesses often owned by big politicians are simply ignored. And now permanent workers are being blamed for no fault of theirs! After deliberately wrecking the Power sector, the government now claims that privatisation is the only solution.
We must make the citizens aware of your successful actions by which despite lack of sanctioned manpower, in Mumbra you were able to increase the monthly bill collection from around 2.5 crores in 2009 to more than 20 crore in 2018. You did all this at great risk to your life from big shots and goons.
Many workers from other industries, organisations and citizens’ groups from Mumbra, Kalwa and Thane are already planning their opposition to the privatization of electricity distribution. Let us all join hands and conduct a big campaign!
Brothers and Sisters!
It is important to link your struggle with the fight against privatization being waged by working people of other public services. The public sector has been built with public money and with the sweat of lakhs of workers. It should work as a public service sector! No government has the right to hand it over for private profit. It is with this principle that we have to wage our fight against privatisation. Experience in our country as well as all over the world shows that privatisation can be blocked and even reversed if the workers and users wage a united fight. While your unions continue their just fight, let us multiply our forces by explaining the issue to other workers and to people who are not aware. Let us organise programs of various types to do that. We are confident that if we do this, we will win this immediate battle!
However, we cannot stop here. Let us become a part of the bigger struggle against the globalisation through privatisation and liberalisation strategy of the Indian and foreign capitalists. The present system is run in the interests of the big capitalists. That is why they are prospering, while tens of crores of workers, peasants and other toilers are finding it difficult to survive. Governments act against our interests because they are actually managers of the ruling capitalist class. Their job is to fool people, to incite one section of people against the other, to divide the people so that the big capitalists can rule. The present system and rule of capitalists is not meant for welfare of workers and peasants and has to be replaced. Ultimately, our fight has to be for establishing the rule of workers and peasants in our country. That alone will ensure sukh and suraksha of all those who toil and create all the wealth in the society.
Brothers and Sisters!
The Communist Ghadar Party stands with you in support of your just fight and lauds your unity. Let us work towards the unity of workers and users to defeat the privatisation plans of the government. Let us insist that privatisation of any sector built with public money is not acceptable. Let us work toward reorienting the economy so that instead of maximising private property, it gives “sukh” and “suraksha”to all!