After months of protests, the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) and its protesting workers sat down to talk for three hours on Friday but the unions described the outcome as a deadlock and the management said it was just the beginning.
The union leaders described the meeting as fruitless as KESC did not accept their demands. But KESC took a softer approach. “Both parties put across their points of view,” said KESC spokesman Aminur Rahman. “It was the first meeting and day one of the talks — it wasn’t expected that all issues would be settled in the first instance, but steps have been taken in the right direction and should move towards a meaningful resolution.”
From KESC went its labour adviser, Chaudhary Abdul Ghafoor, general manager, Khalid Hammad, deputy GM, Baqar Zaidi and Zarrar Advocate. The discussions were held at a hotel where KESC’s temporary offices have been set up. The protesters have been camped outside its headquarters at Gizri.
Representing the workers were People’s Workers Union general secretary Lateef Mughal, Aslam Kamboh, Ayaz Mengal, Abdul Wahid Kazmi, Mateen Sakrani, Ishtiaque Khan, Arbab Asad, Shah Saeed and Shoukat Sanbhal.
Mughal and Labour Union (CBA) president Usman Baloch told The Express Tribune that they had placed two points on the table. They wanted the 4,500 workers to be assigned duties and taken out of the surplus pool. They wanted what they said was the “victimisation” of the workers to end, and all notices, charge sheets and termination letters be withdrawn immediately.
They said that KESC’s representatives showed willingness to review the cases which would be tackled by a committee. They also said they would be willing to withdraw a few termination letters and pay workers who had been waiting for two months. But KESC did not agree to to the first demand. According to the union leaders, KESC’s delegation took a tough instance on that point and said that the company would not take them back but would offer them a voluntary separation scheme ab initio.
Mughal said that KESC’s representatives had warned of disciplinary action and that they would sack all workers who have been actively participating in the sit-in. He said that KESC’s delegation had said that there would be no further round of bilateral discussions. This is why they were describing it as a deadlock. He said that KESC sacked Labour Union (CBA) chairman Akhlaque Ahmed, general secretary Haji Shahzad and joint secretary Aziz on Saturday which is why they did not attend the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2011.
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