KARACHI: Drug-manufacturing company Novartis has written a letter to the federal government, seeking increased security at its Jamshoro plant as miscreants have been targeting it.
In a letter dated February 11, Novartis chief executive Shahab Rizvi said that the employees have been harrassed, manhandled and the vehicles have been damaged. These matters were reported to the police but no improvement was seen. On February 8, some miscreants blocked the factory’s main gate for up to five hours, refusing to allow staff to exit. The Rangers had to intervene.
The CEO requested the government to allow the Rangers set up a check-post near the plant so that they can conduct regular patrols in the area. These steps would help restore confidence among the factory workers. Five hundred people are employed at the plant and 30 per cent of them are women.
The letter did not specify who may be behind these attacks but a company official told The Express Tribune that they were residents from surrounding areas, who may have been rejected for jobs. These people are angry that the company is hiring workers from outside the district and ignoring locals, said an officer who did not want to be named.
When The Express Tribune contacted the HR department for a spokesperson, the name of Khalid Mehmood was provided. He told this newspaper that he had been working at Novartis for several years but he declined to give an official designation. In answer to questions on the threat, he said that the company has a fixed number of workers it can appoint. If it can only hire 500 workers, it will accommodate people within that range and will not hire over that.
He denied that the company hires people from outside the district and said that a majority of the staff are from Jamshoro. “But we always seek the right person for the right job, wherever he [or she] may be from,” he said.
Mehmood added that several investors have pulled out of the district due to similar threats. He was not aware that the company had written the federal government but as far as he knew the centre had not contacted them [if a letter was sent].
Novartis has, in the meantime, hired private security guards. A police mobile-unit is also stationed outside at all times.
with additional input by Saher Baloch
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2011.