Paknet sackings: a challenge for prime minister -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Paknet sackings: a challenge for prime minister

RAWALPINDI – Rulers in Pakistan always start their stint in power with declaring reduction in unemployment as one of their top priorities. Joblessness, however, continues to rise exposing the contradiction in what the rulers profess for public consumption and what they practice for their own benefits.

The sacking of about 50 educated young employees of the Paknet during the last three months has shown that the present ruling elite, if not checked by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, would contribute to spreading instead of slashing unemployment in the country.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, during his short tenure as premier, announced regularisation of the services of PTCL workers. It was expected that the Shaukat government would follow the good precedent set by Shujaat.

This was, however, not acceptable to the Paknet bosses led by its MD Moeen Sadiq, who resorted to large-scale retrenchments of low-paid employees on the pretext of losses to the company. Instead of meeting the losses by plugging the loopholes and cutting the non-productive expenditures, including perks and privileges of the company’s bigwigs, the Paknet bosses deemed it easy to start economic murder of the workers. They had no concern over the gloom and desperation their decision brought to the members of 50 families. They were only worried to ensure that their own privileges remained intact.

Senator Amjad Abbas Qureshi has done a right job by asking the Ministry of Information and Technology through a question in the Senate that why the losses of Paknet were not met by trimming the perks and privileges of the bosses of the company? He has also asked whether the sacking of the Paknet employees was not contrary to the declared government policy of providing employment to the people?

Paknet is a subsidiary of the PTCL where, according to the minister for information and technology, the services of employees are being regularized. The minister is, however, indifferent to the plight of about 50 sacked Paknet workers and their families.

Two of the sacked workers, through their contacts, succeeded in conveying to the minister the horrendous circumstances they faced because of losing their jobs. The minister ordered their reinstatement.

The Paknet MD, however, withheld the implementation of the minister’s order for weeks. After being reminded by the ministry, he issued letters of their fresh appointment for only three months with their pay reduced to almost half. The cruel joke was result of the tendency among those in authority to exploit those who, despite being educated, have no bargaining position because of the widespread unemployment.

It was not possible for the victims to approach the minister again and again to get them reinstated. The minister has his own priorities and engagements.

The overwhelming majority of the workers, however, are either unable to access the minister, or do not have contacts to win his favour. They have no choice but to accept things as destined for them.

The government departments are not expected to fire their employees and that too in large numbers. If unjustified action against the Paknet workers is not redressed, other government departments may also follow suit, making the life for the poor employees miserable. The issue of sacking of Paknet employees is the first big challenge to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz with regard to his declared agenda of protecting and increasing employment.

It is expected that the prime minister would order the Paknet bosses to reinstate the sacked workers and offset the losses to the company, if there are any, by reducing non-productive expenditures. This step will set a good example to be followed by other companies and departments.

Source: The News

Date:12/9/2004