Cry for women safety at workplace after staff death on duty - Hindustan Times
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Cry for women safety at workplace after staff death on duty

BySiddharth Gadkari
Apr 27, 2024 05:10 AM IST

Krishna Bhoyer, general secretary, Maharashtra State Electricity Workers Federation, has blamed the state government for the incident

Following the tragic killing of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) woman staffer by a disgruntled consumer in Baramati, employee unions have pushed for action and security of employees. Steps are also taken to provide security and CCTV camera cover to the office at Morgaon (Baramati) after the incident.

After 2013, the power utility decided to appoint women employees on linewoman posts, like Rinku Bansode-Thite who died after the brutal attack while on duty. (HT PHOTO)
After 2013, the power utility decided to appoint women employees on linewoman posts, like Rinku Bansode-Thite who died after the brutal attack while on duty. (HT PHOTO)

Joint Action Committee of Maharashtra State Electricity Employees, Officers, Engineers, and Unions raised demand that the discom administration should without delay prepare a comprehensive plan to prevent recurrence of such incidents. They have sought round-the-clock security guards at all sub-stations and branch offices.

Ankush Nale, regional director, Pune Regional Division, said, “The head office will consider the demands of employee unions in the state and announce decision soon.”

In MSEDCL, there are 55,000 employees, including around 10,000 women. After 2013, the power utility decided to appoint women employees on linewoman posts, like Rinku Bansode-Thite who died after the brutal attack while on duty.

One of the linewomen on condition of anonymity, “The incident has raised the issue of women security not only at MSEDCL but also other government offices. While the government is giving opportunities by giving 33 per cent women reservation at workplace, their security often remains ignored. It is a stark reality that while two women are contesting from Baramati Lok Sabha seat, a woman staff is getting killed on duty at the same constituency.”

‘Insensitive administration and government’

Krishna Bhoyer, general secretary, Maharashtra State Electricity Workers Federation, has blamed the state government for the incident.

“The discom serves 3 crore consumers in the state with employees, engineers and staff working tirelessly to ensure 24/7 power supply. Technicians in Class 3 and 4 directly handle daily operations. Conflicts between workers and consumers arise due to various reasons, like government policies on electricity bills, consumer’s refusal to pay charges due to financial struggles, and poor management. This has led to a staggering 73,000 crore in unpaid bills. Employees face mental stress due to pressure from the administration to recover dues. Building trust among employees is crucial.”

He alleged that it was the deceased’s husband and not MSEDCL who filed a first information report (FIR) after the incident, and the discom’s director met the victim’s family on the second day.

Five months, 13 incidents

In the past five months, there have been thirteen incidents of violence against engineers and employees of MSEDCL in western Maharashtra, including Pune. Nineteen people have criminal cases against them, which could lead to two to ten years in prison if proven guilty.

Six each were reported in Pune and Solapur, and one in Sangli. Some suspects have been arrested.

MSEDCL faces financial strain due to increasing overdue electricity bills across all categories, including households. Therefore, they’re focusing on bill recovery. Engineers, officers, and employees are urging people to pay on time. But those who don’t comply face electricity disconnection. Unfortunately, some react with violence against MSEDCL staff. Disputes over increased rates, incorrect meter readings, and faulty meters also contribute to tensions between customers and MSEDCL employees, sometimes leading to assaults.

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