KESC reinstates 4,500 workers
KARACHI: After intense deliberations and the government’s intercession, the Karachi Electric Supply Company on Sunday night withdrew the order through which it had sacked 4,500 employees.
The retrenchment had set off furious protests in Karachi, disabling the utility’s network in several areas of the city.
The decision was announced at the Governor’s House by the Federal Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervez Ashraf, and the MQM’s deputy convener Dr Farooq Sattar while talking to media after several hours of consultations between a three-member committee.
The committee comprised Raza Rabbani, Khurshid Shah and Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Displaying the order signed by the KESC’s chief executive, Tabish Gohar, reversing the sacking of employees, Raja Pervez Ashraf expressed a hope that the workers would now call of their sit-in.
He said that the government holds 26 per cent shares in the company and not only believed in protecting rights of workers but also of the investors.
He lauded the efforts made by the Sindh Governor and Chief Minister besides coalition partners and especially the nine member committee constituted by the provincial government headed by the Sindh minister for Power Shazia Marri, which in fact had done the ground work and provided the basis for the outcome.
Dr Farooq Sattar welcomed the outcome and said the decision has been taken to protect the interest of affected KESC employees and about 20 million people of Karachi who have suffered a lot because of the problem.
Raja Pervez Ashraf and Dr Farooq Sattar parried questions about the fate of FIRs lodged by the KESC management against striking employees.
Earlier in the day, the KESC management informed the government-appointed committee that it was not possible for it to reverse the retrenchment.
The KESC contended that legal experts had advised against the reversal. However, the management maintained that it could extend the date of expiry of VSS offer for another 45 days with effect from Jan 15.
It made it clear that while the affected people will be paid the salary and will be allowed to avail medical facility for the extended period, the management was not prepared to take them back on the job on which they were prior to their termination.
It may be pointed out that the cost of VSS settlement to the KESC was around six billion rupees but the cost of settlement of matter with terminated employees would be around four billion rupees.
Not accepting the KESC’s arguments, the committee, however, made it clear that it must reinstate the workers first and thereafter other modalities could be worked out.
The Committee also pointed out to the KESC management that it has neither improved services nor reduced line losses and load shedding, which in fact was on the rise and causing law and order problem.
Due to hardening KESC attitude a feeling for taking over the utility by the government was also developing, but the option does not seem to be plausible at the moment because of legal implications.
While the government was losing its patience with the privatized management’s decision that has created serious law and order situation and has threatened industrial and commercial activity in the city, there were indications that it was also considering options of intervention in the affairs of the power utility.
It may be pointed out that the government has 26 per cent of share in the power utility and could move a resolution in the Board of Directors against this decision.
General Secretary share holders’ association Ch. Mazhar Ali said that being holder of 1/3rd shares, the government can do that and even it was defeated in the Board of Directors, SECP can take notice and censure the utility management.
He pointed out that under the privatization agreement the management was not supposed to retrench any employee before the expiry of three years.
Now that time limit has passed away and the management was taking advantage of that.
He questioned the argument of the management about removal of employees and said that at the time of privatization there were 15200 employees but now the strength was around 15700, despite the sacking of 3400 people earlier.
He believed that the KESC management had sacked the workers to extract more concessions from the government on debts and oil subsidy. He equated the sacking with kidnapping for ransom by the power utility’s management.