SUKKUR/HYDERABAD: The proposed privatisation of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wadpa) has elicited the ire of its employees, who boycotted work and organised rallies in several cities, including Sukkur, Rohri, Jacobabad and Hyderabad, on Thursday.
The protests have been organised by the Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Central Labour Union, which consists of the workers from the power houses, the distribution companies and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). The workers were also angry at the federal government for dissolving the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) in compliance with the directives of international financial institutions to reform the power sector.
In Sukkur, hundreds of workers from the Sukkur Electric Power Company marched from Minara road to the Clock Tower and shouted slogans against the government.
They were led by the office bearers of the union, including Syed Zahid Hussain and Badarul Islam. The leaders of the rally said that though the government claimed that it shall provide ‘roti, kapra, aur makaan’, it was actually working against its manifesto. They added that they did not want the organisation to suffer the same fate as the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation, which created many problems for its workers as well as the citizens after its privatisation.
A rally was also held outside the Hyderabad Press Club. The protesters set effigies of the federal minister for water and power, Syed Naveed Qamar, on fire. The president of the labour union, Abdul Latif Nizamani, was present at this rally. “We have filed a petition against the government with the Sukkur bench of the Sindh High Court. We will take it to task for dissolving Pepco,” he said. Nizamani warned that the next step of the union, besides organising bigger demonstrations, would be to take the government to the Supreme Court.
He said that plans to privatise the billing departments of all the power distribution companies are also in the pipeline. “All these actions are being taken on the pretext that they will bring betterment by curtailing expenditures, increasing revenues and by getting rid of the load shedding.”
The union will hold another day of protests on December 14, after which it will make a final decision about its course of action.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2011.