Contractual employees of power distribution companies Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply (BSES) Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna on Friday, agreed to defer their proposed indefinite strike for the time being after Delhi High Court asked the two discoms to “hear them out”.
Observing that “everything will come to a standstill if electricity was disrupted” in the national capital, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the contractual employees to defer their strike, slated from August 22, till the government decides whether to impose ESMA or not.
The court said that August 20 and 21 were holidays and a decision by the Lieutenant Governor on whether to impose Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) would take time.
The judge said that deferring of the strike would also give the court some time to adjudicate the discoms’ plea seeking directions to the government to invoke ESMA.
The court further said, “Can you put the entire public to risk? Hospitals, airport, schools will not get power. Everything will come to a standstill.”
“You can go on strike a week or ten days later. What is so sacrosanct about August 22,” it asked.
The lawyer for the contractual employees then told the court the strike would be deferred if the discoms called them for negotiations, to which BSES Rajdhani and Yamuna agreed.
The court fixed August 22 for holding meetings between the senior officials of the discoms and the representatives of the contractual employees’ union and listed the matter for further hearing on September 14.
The judge, however, made it clear that “the union shall be bound by their statement not to go on strike till next date of hearing” on September 14.
During the hearing, the lawyer for the contractual employees told the court that they were only involved in billing and collections and had nothing to do with power supply. She also said that ESMA would not apply to them as they were contractual employees.
She alleged that the strike was called as they were not given any holidays or even minimum wages and also against the “hire and fire” policy of the discoms.