Is electricity at risk?

by admindasun
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Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union issuing a Statement said that CEB employees have been sidelined when it comes to the prevention and control of the spread of coronavirus among essential service employees. This has, however, happened at a time, employees of CEB island wide are striving hard to keep the uninterrupted 24/7 power supply in the island whilst combating against the current Covid-19 Pandemic Situation that has worsened in the country since April 2021 which paralyzed most of the activities in the country and disrupted the livelihoods of most of the people. Nor is CEB is treated same manner, in which other institutions are treated that provide basic services considering their services as essential to the public.

It takes little imagination to comprehend the fact that the Commitment of CEB employees who are on duty with a proper understanding of their responsibilities should be considered for the same priority as of the other essential services. It has been observed that they are anxious and frustrated to get their needs prioritized. Employees are working hard tirelessly to fulfill their responsibilities by continuing uninterrupted power supply to the Hospitals & High-Risk Isolated Areas to avoid people suffering from power failures. Even at the moment, some Power Plants, Transmission Grid Substations, Area Engineer Offices & Customer Service Centers of CEB have been closed due to the presence of Covid-19 Patients. . .

The worst-case incident is the failure to pay any attention or consideration to the dedicated CEB employees in vaccinating against the Covid 19 pandemic in the country. The total number of employees in the Ceylon Electricity Board is about 26,000, out of which about 15,000 employees are directly involved in maintaining electricity, which is an essential service, and are in direct contact with consumers. In the Western Province, about 2,600 of above numbers were vaccinated with SinoPharm, and 850 Employees who had previously received the first dose of AstraZeneca were able to receive the second dose after much deliberation. Despite repeated requests by the Management & the Trade Unions, the rest of the workers are still waiting for vaccination to date, and we as the CEB Engineers’ Union, a trade union responsible for maintaining electricity in the country, emphasize that it is not acceptable.

Even though CEB, is at a reduced number of employees to protect themselves from the Covid 19 Pandemic, those who were on duty worked tirelessly for days to attend to the breakdowns of as many as 177,000 people in the country who have lost power due to the recent severe weather, while not being able to have meals timely. We would like to remind you that if for some reason these workers refused to work amidst unsafe conditions because they did not even receive the vaccine provided for other essential services to protect themselves from the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people in the country would still have been in darkness.

A number of employees are showing signs of colds and flu, making it difficult to diagnose whether the condition is due to exposure to rain or Covid 19. As it will take about a week to receive the results of the PCR tests for such employees, so in the next few weeks, employees will have to resort to large-scale self-quarantine and, as a result, area offices will have to be closed. As the severe weather situation in the country has not ceased, major power outages are likely in the future, which could leave thousands of people without power for weeks. Furthermore, if the existing field workers refuse to work amidst heavy rains, the unit heads may not take action to control the situation considering the safety of the workers.

We hope that you understand the importance of careful planning in all aspects of the country as a government in dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, which has been creating havoc in the country for a long time and will continue to have an impact for many years to come.

In such a situation, CEBEU will not take any responsibility for maintaining the power supply of the country as did in 2012 & 2017, if the CEB employees who maintain the country’s power supply stay away from their duties as a trade union action due to the pandemic situation in which the government does not provide them with proper health care. We would like to emphasize that those employees with special expertise and experience will not be able to substitute by the Army or any other replacement. Therefore, we hope that the government and the authorities will expedite the vaccination to frontline CEB employees without further aggravating the crisis situation in the country.

Dhammike Wimalaratne
Jt. Secretary
Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union

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