KESC employees strike paralyzed life in city
May 20, 2011
As strike by the CBA Karachi Electric Supply Corporation has crossed almost three weeks, it has paralyzed the lives of the people completely with prolong and unannounced power outages continued to blackout the city and caused violent reactions of protestors on streets.
The blame game of KESC management and its angry employees are continued as if in the past but their tug-of-war have left the masses of commercial capital in the lurch with no one came up with mediation and resolution of the deepening issue.
KESC management blamed the stubborn attitude of the union for the miseries being faced by the citizens.
Management sources said that KESC union’s persistent protests and forcing the employees not to work has made the power outage situation in the city beyond control, as several areas including Shara-e-Quaideen, PECHS, Lines Area and Lyari electricity supply remained suspended for the last several hours causing disruption in water supply also piling miseries on the people.
They said that CBA for its own ends illegally putting the citizens in great trouble and the workers were being forced to stop work for the restoration of the electricity supply in the affected areas while in Hadi Market, Nazimabad some armed persons forced closures of the KESC centers and have taken away the necessary tools and equipments.
The KESC electricity transmission system was being damaged deliberately causing losses to the organization besides piling miseries on the people in terms of protracted power outage, they further added.
Sources said that the sacked staff have been offered 30 percent more than offered initially, but they did not respond and kept their protest continue. “Due to the financial crunch and high cost of doing business, the company decided to take this step to fire those people who were a burden on the company.”
The long strike and protest being carried our by the sacked staff is politically backed, they claimed.
A spokesman of the utility said that the utility have expressed great concern over the continuing subversion and disruption of the power supply system throughout the city deliberately carried out by CBA Union and its external armed accomplices and demanded the government to take immediate action in order to provide relief to the general public.
He said Tabish Gauhar, CEO of KESC, along with senior members of management, visited various offices of the utility and exhorted upon the employees to resist disrupting attempts by CBA Union and its external accomplices in order to restore smooth functioning of power supply system in the interest of the general public.
These areas included Akhtar Colony, Tariq Road, Khalid Bin Waleed Road, DHA, Delton Market, PECHS and others.
He added that the KESC understands that the Union has crossed all limits of decent protest, trade union ethics, professionalism, respect for law of the land, public peace and has even violated the Sindh High Court orders which clearly prohibited the union from any protest or agitation by declaring it illegal and unjustified. However, the union has rejected has these claims.
In January, KESC’s downsizing was met with furious reaction from these employees and the Sindh government intervened. As a result, KESC had to take back the workers but these men and women now claim that the management has isolated them. For a few months there was relative calm but 11 days ago protesters went on a hunger strike to death. To add to the problem, KESC had recently announced a second golden handshake, which was rejected again by these rehired workers.
For its part, KESC has said that for the last two days it has repeatedly informed the media of “threats” from the representatives of its collective bargaining agent (CBA) or union, whose members have forced offices and complaint centres to shut down.
He further said that, added that the management feared that some “external elements” were behind the organised unrest. When asked, the spokesperson said he did not know if the management had lodged an FIR.
According to the spokesperson, armed protesters have forced shut KESC’s Customer Services Offices at several locations. He said they sabotaged 10 high-tension cables feeding around 20,000 houses in PECHS, Garden and adjoining areas. “The CBA has deliberately switched off substations and other supply networks. The areas affected till Monday, May 16 afternoon included SITE, Lyari, Old Town, Manghopir, Orangi, New Challi, Defence, PECHS, Gurumandir, and Mazaar-e-Quaid”
Since Saturday morning, KESC has been facing acute problems of drivers and ‘mobile trucks with ladders’ (MTLs). Staff working to repair local faults have been removed. Some of the trucks have been locked inside the operation centres. KESC said working staff is being threatened on their mobile phones. Almost 2,000 complaints from consumers have been on hold.
For their part, however, KESC’s spokesman refuted these allegations which he said was an attempt to paint them in a bad light. “We have been on hunger strike to death for the last 17 days, so how is it possible for the CBA to have forced KESC’s office to shut,” he said. “KESC’s management has to explain if it has approached any authority, including the police and Rangers.”
When questioned about the contempt of court, he said that the CBA is using its lawful and democratic right to stage a protest and hunger strike against KESC’s stubbornness to isolate 4,500 workers from regular duty and against hiring workers on contract from third-party contractors.