Karachi: Sacked workers ransack KESC premises
KARACHI, Jan 20: Shocked by their sudden dismissal overnight, hundreds of employees of the Karachi Electric Supply Company erupted into protest on Thursday morning. Some of them allegedly vented their anger on KESC officials and property.
Reacting to the sacking of more than 4,000 employees by the KESC, MQM chief Altaf Hussain warned the power utility to reinstate them or face a ‘peaceful movement’. Intervening in the matter, Sindh minister for energy Shazia Marri said she would organise a meeting of representatives of the employees and the KESC management to help control the damage.
The sacked employees led by their trade union leaders staged a protest demonstration outside the KESC office on Abdullah Haroon Road early in the morning and later pitched themselves outside the KESC head offices adjacent to the Gizri grid.
A violent reaction by the fired employees was seen in the morning and there were reports of ransacking of the KESC offices, burning of its vehicles and use of strong arm tactics against its officials.
Labour leaders denied the violence allegation, and said that except for an initial reaction workers did not indulge in looting or arson attacks.
The KESC criticised “the criminal negligence of local law-enforcement agencies in protecting KESC officials at the head office” of the power utility on Thursday and urged the provincial and federal governments to intervene and “perform their duty of protecting the employees from the hooliganism of outside elements”.
The affected employees and their leaders have camped on the road outside the head office “until the KESC management withdrew the sacking order”.
CBA chairman Akhlaq Ahmad and general secretary Shahzad Ahmad, general secretary of PPP Karachi Saeed Ghani, Mohammad Hussain Mehnati, general secretary of the People’s Workers Union Lateef Mughal, Aslam Sammo, Ayaz Mangal and other trade union leaders were camped outside the KESC head office till the filing of this report.
In a press release, the KESC said that hundreds of “goonda elements” attacked the KESC head office at Gizri and allegedly forced their way into the office buildings.
The protesters allegedly took the employees inside as hostage, said the power utility’s media release, claiming that the protesters “physically attacked the top management officials on duty in the head office building and ransacked equipment and property and torched vehicles”.
Many KESC officials on duty have been seriously injured in the attack, it said. The police and other law–enforcement agencies were duly informed by the KESC management but “they stood there watching the scene as silent spectators and did not act even after hours of the start of attack”.
Meanwhile, on the instructions of the Sindh chief minister, Energy Minister Shazia Marri in a letter to the KESC CEO “expressed grave concern that the KESC has enforced redundancy on over 4,000 of its employees, causing severe unrest in its ranks”.
“This has given rise to a law and order situation as the thousands of laid-off employees have taken to the streets in protest,” she said.
“Such a mass redundancy is uncalled for and has left many households in a state of shock, as their sole bread earners have been put out of work.”
Ms Marri asked the KESC management to inform the ministry of power about the reasons/policy which led to such a large-scale layoff, and the remedial measures undertaken by the KESC to ensure that the suffering of “the redundant employees” are minimised.
She said she was trying to organise a meeting between the KESC management and the workers’ leaders sometimes on Friday. Efforts were being made to hold such a meeting even earlier to bring an end to this standoff.