KSEB stir: Power minister to hold talks on Monday

Thiruvananthapuram/Aluva: Power Minister K Krishnankutty will intervene to thrash out a solution to the ongoing tussle between pro-Left unions in the Kerala State Electricity Board and the public utility's chairman and managing director, B Ashok.

The minister has convened a meeting on Monday with the Left-affiliated associations, even as the CMD took a swipe at the unions, saying their stir, braving the sun and heavy downpour, would not yield any result.

The KSEB Officers' Association (KSEBOA) has been on an indefinite strike since Monday following a fresh row over the financial status of the Board. The CMD's decision to deploy the State Industrial Security Force at Vydyuthi Bhavan, the KSEB headquarters, and other installations, had drawn flak from CITU and AITUC two months ago.

Justifying the management, Minister Krishnankutty said it had tried to iron out the differences, and withdrew the suspensions of the employees. "The management cannot be blamed for everything," he said, adding issues with the decisions, if any, would be rectified.

Meanwhile, it has been indicated that the management had rectified its order that excluded KSEBOA general secretary B Harikumar while promoting executive engineers, some of them even junior to the union secretary.

Justifying that an employee kept under suspension could not be considered for promotion, the Board said Harikumar's elevation would be taken up after he rejoins work and submits a memorandum.

The Board cited technical issues to reinstate two leaders, whose suspension was revoked, in the posts they had been occupying. Besides Harikumar, KSEBOA president M G Suresh kumar and executive member A Jasmine Banu, too, were kept under suspension.

Though their suspension was withdrawn, the Board had, meanwhile, appointed two others to replace Kumar and Banu. The Board felt that if they were shifted to accommodate the leaders, they could move a court for a stay.

The LDF and CPM leadership have instructed the management to sort out the differences through talks.

Meanwhile, CMD Ashok claimed that there were no issues in KSEB, and he has been affectionate towards the protesters, braving the sun and downpour for no reason. They have been trying to replace the CMD for the past six months.

"They are now saying that the mentality should change. I cannot be bogged down by threats of shunting me out. I have only one policy whereever I am posted. Only the room, chair and people change," Ashok said while inaugurating the Dr B R Ambedkar Jayanthi celebrations organised by the SC-ST Employees' Welfare Association (SEWA) of the Board in Aluva.

"KSEB will accept an individual to any extent. But the Board's fundamentals cannot be sacrificed," Ashok said, adding that he would act touch against anyone trying to insult the director board members. "He will be issued a show-cause notice, and be expelled," he added.

The CMD made the speech in the presence of KSEB managing board member R Suku, who had accused KSEBOA president M G Suresh Kumar of insulting him.

Admitting the Left is a force that has to be reckoned with in Kerala, Ashok said all other parties, including Congress, too, seemed to be Left. "I had hope in those who had smeared their forehead with sandalwood paste. But they are ultra-Left," he said.

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