Sacked and rehired : Protesters causing blackouts: KESC

Published: May 10, 2011
A KESC worker fixing wires near Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine in November 2010. Two months later, KESC offered 4,500 such staffers a golden handshake in a bid to streamline operations. PHOTO: FILE

A KESC worker fixing wires near Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine in November 2010. Two months later, KESC offered 4,500 such staffers a golden handshake in a bid to streamline operations. PHOTO: FILE


The sacking and reluctant rehiring of 4,500 employees continues to haunt the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) that complained on Monday that protesters were switching off substations, leading to blackouts. The union has rejected these claims.

In January, KESC’s downsizing was met with furious reaction from these employees and the Sindh government intervened. As a result, KESC had to take back the workers but these men and women now claim that the management has isolated them. For a few months there was relative calm but 11 days ago protesters went on a hunger strike to death. To add to the problem, KESC had recently announced a second golden handshake, which was rejected again by these rehired workers.

For its part, KESC has said that for the last two days it has repeatedly informed the media of “threats” from the representatives of its collective bargaining agent (CBA) or union, whose members have forced offices and complaint centres to shut down. A KESC spokesperson, Aminur Rahman, added that the management feared that some “external elements” were behind the organised unrest.

When asked, the spokesperson said he did not know if the management had lodged an FIR. “The CBA Union’s so-called protest and violent disruption and sabotage have no justification,” he said. “It is in clear violation of the Sindh High Court’s order of May 7 which had declared the union’s ongoing protest as illegal and unjustified.” KESC and the union are scheduled to appear in court on May 13.

According to the spokesperson, armed protesters have forced shut KESC’s Customer Services Offices at several locations. He said they sabotaged 10 high-tension cables feeding around 20,000 houses in PECHS, Garden and adjoining areas. “The CBA has deliberately switched off substations and other supply networks. The areas affected till Monday afternoon included SITE, Lyari, Old Town, Manghopir, Orangi, New Challi, Defence, PECHS, Gurumandir, and Mazaar-e-Quaid…”

Since Saturday morning, KESC has been facing acute problems of drivers and ‘mobile trucks with ladders’ (MTLs). Staff working to repair local faults have been removed. Some of the trucks have been locked inside the operation centres. KESC said working staff is being threatened on their mobile phones.

Almost 2,000 complaints from consumers have been on hold.

For their part, however, KESC’s CBA chairman Akhlaq Ahmed refuted these allegations which he said was an attempt to paint them in a bad light. “We have been on hunger strike to death for the last 11 days, so how is it possible for the CBA to have forced KESC’s office to shut,” he said. “KESC’s management has to explain if it has approached any authority, including the police and Rangers.”

When questioned about the contempt of court, he said that the CBA is using its lawful and democratic right to stage a protest and hunger strike against KESC’s stubbornness to isolate 4,500 workers from regular duty and against hiring workers on contract from third-party contractors.

People’s Workers Union’s general secretary Lateef Mughal also refuted KESC’s claims and said that despite opposition, the CBA did not do anything illegal. He said that KESC’s CEO Tabish Gohar was issued a contempt of court notice (in suit No. 815/2010) for failing to follow ad interim orders. The suit was filed by officers who were sacked by KESC.

Mughal added that third-party contractors are those who were once in KESC and were either removed or retired. KESC has so far taken in around 6,000 workers on contract.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2011.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (7)

  • muhammad ashraf
    May 10, 2011 - 10:18AM

    These workers should be arrested & put in jails immediately,they’re blackmailing kesc by bringing misery to millions of people in karachi.Every company has every right to fire its surplus employees & these are the non-core employees whose services will be outsourced to other pakistani workers.
    We have to get rid of this culture in our society of fixed,lifelong jobs whatever the job performance be.These kesc people are the tools & instruments of political parties who use these workers to intimidate kesc.

    The courts should support kesc in firing these blackmailing workers.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    May 10, 2011 - 11:07AM

    Let’s see my house did not have power for the last 28 hours.Recommend

  • KESC officer
    May 10, 2011 - 12:05PM

    Labor is behind the shutting down of offices and sabotaging the high tension cables as an attempt to blackout Karachi. This can be confirm from any neutral employee of KESC who have a insight of on-going situation. Officers are not being allowed to sit in their offices and perform their duties. Mobs of labor are in patrol all over the city and check every KESC office that any officer must not be found performing his duty, If found, he would be seriously beaten physically and abused without realizing the importance and nature of his job.
    CBA are big fools to protest for no reason. They have been restored on their positions and getting salaries on time. Out of 4500 employees who were offered Golden-Hand shake (VSS) 4 months ago, 80% are willing to accept the offer, they all know that they have no importance in the company because they are performing very non-core duties at very high rate. They want to accept the offer and invest that money to obtain some permanent and respectable source of income but CBA/Labor Union is not allowing them to accept the offer.Recommend

  • Arif
    May 10, 2011 - 3:01PM

    @ muhammad ashraf: AGREED 100%. We have become corrupt overall. we wont work hard but still want our job security. In essence, this is against Islam as well. We have to be 100% honest and sincere with our work. Otherwise, all earnings through a job like this, are haram.Recommend

  • Salman
    May 10, 2011 - 3:49PM

    Citizen needs to come out and start killing these criminal Labor Union.Recommend

  • adnan
    May 10, 2011 - 4:05PM

    I am resident of Karachi DHA phase 6. from Monday morning 11am till now its almost 3:35 pm Tuesday 10 may 2011 still having no electricity and on friday the previous week they also shut down the electricity for 8 to 10 hours, well as i m going to share my experience that from Monday to tuesday there is no light and the call center is also closed they have no feeling for others to understand there problem they all just want to save there side. May ALLAH give them right path amenRecommend

  • A Pakistani
    May 10, 2011 - 7:18PM

    My house has been without power since last night… Around 12:25 the phase on which all the lights & fans were running went out… and till now (its 7:15 pm) nothing has been done to restore it …( I reside in Phase 4 near 8th Commercial)…. A similar incident happened at my friends place who lives near old sabzi mandi their power (single phase) went out last night at 8:00 pm and today around 2:00 pm when they hired someone to fix it… It was discovered that one of the jumpers have been broken….


More in Sindh