9 KESC workers, security chief wounded in firing
KARACHI: At least nine workers of the Karachi Electric Supply Company were wounded on Monday when KESC security guards allegedly opened fire on protesters demanding their four months’ salary, as agreed in a recent agreement, tried to break into the KESC headquarters in Gizri off Sunset Boulevard.
A KESC spokesman said the chief of the KESC head office security, a retired colonel, was among people wounded in an attack by workers.
The wounded workers were rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for treatment, said People’s Workers Union leader Aslam Sammo.
He said one of the security guards was also wounded allegedly by a bullet fired by another guard of the KESC.
He said a police mobile was partially burnt when a tear-gas shell hit the vehicle.
He said the whole problem developed when the KESC management declined to pay four months’ salary to the employees who had refused to accept the VSS launched by the management through coercive means.
Mr Sammo said that as Eid was close at hand the CBA had urged the management to honour its commitment and pay to the workers their outstanding salary, but to no avail.
He regretted that the Sindh governor, who had brokered the agreement and on whose assurance workers had called off their protest, was not responding to workers’ call for immediate intervention.
He said as the workers had been without money for several months, they had no other option but to protest.
General Secretary of the People’s Workers Union Lateef Mughal condemned the firing by KESC guards on the employees who, according to him, were peacefully protesting and demanding their four-month salary.
The PWU demanded the arrest of the KESC CEO and insisted that an FIR be registered against him for the incident.
Meanwhile, the KESC spokesman again accused the “dismissed and terminated workers” of indulging in acts of “terrorism” at the KESC headquarters.
He alleged that these workers were involved in serious subversive activities.
The KESC condemned the “terrorist” attack on the utility’s head office and termed it a “planned armed attempt” to cause blackout in the city during the Eid festival.
The KESC demanded the immediate arrest of the “gangsters belonging to a labour union and supported by external elements” who allegedly attacked various strategic installations to paralyse the entire power supply system.
During the indiscriminate firing, “armed union terrorists” wounded KESC head offices’ security-in-charge, two guards and three policemen, a KESC press release said.
They disconnected the communication network of the central control of the KESC, the Load Dispatch Centre on Elandar Road, and damaged the Gizri grid station transformer.
Several attempts were made by the union mobsters to cut off the optic fibre network of the central control, threatening a complete shutdown of power supply to the whole city.
The “armed union gangsters” besieged the head office and allegedly fired gunshots the whole day making the utility’s top management and visiting consumers “hostage”, it said. The miscreants jumped inside the head office building and opened fire on the security personnel and employees, the spokesperson said, adding that the security officer of the KESC head offices, retired Col Asif, was among the three men wounded in the firing, besides several policemen. The KESC asked the executive authorities to take strong measures to prevent violence by the labour union. It recalled that on July 26, at the end of about three months’ agitation, the provincial and city authorities had guaranteed that they would preempt any violent action by the union but it had restarted only after a month’s gap.
The spokesperson claimed that a big number of the attackers were dismissed employees who had serious charges against them.
It said that some elements within the union with possible support of external elements had been trying to hijack the situation to serve their interests by creating a law and order situation.
The KESC has submitted a detailed report of Monday’s violent incidents to the National Electric Power Regular Authority and the federal ministry of water and power.
The KESC spokesperson claimed that all other surplus workers had been given ‘Ramzan relief package’ and ‘Eid kifalat package’. There was, therefore, no question of non-payment of salaries.
Secretary General of the Sindh PPP Taj Haider, who was part of the negotiating team that brokered the agreement, said that a few days back he had contacted the governor and brought the issue of non-payment of salaries to his notice and he had promised to take up the matter with the KESC management.
He said the workers representatives had also written a letter to the governor seeking his immediate indulgence in this regard.