Following intensive back and forth negotiations for over 15 hours, the three-month old dispute between the management of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) and the labour union finally ended early Tuesday morning.
An accord, signed by the KESC management, labour union collective bargaining agent and the civil administration, called for resumption of the utility’s operations, reopening of its service centres and an immediate end to all protests and sit-ins.
The accord also called for the announcement of a dispute resolution committee (DRC) comprising representatives from KESC, workers and civil administration, within a week. The committee would evaluate each case on an individual basis and its decision would be binding on all stakeholders.
Until the DRC arrives at a final decision, the KESC’s management would not sack any workers nor would the workers resume working at their previous positions. They would, however, be allowed to register their attendance at the utility’s offices.
The accord also called for expeditious disbursement of outstanding packages to workers who had accepted the voluntary separation scheme. The scheme would stay in place for workers who wish to avail it in the future.
There was also an assurance that members of the labour union would not indulge in violence or obstruct the utility’s operations.
The accord signals an end to the standoff but several questions persist.
The management and the union have yet to resolve the repositioning of categories for the sacked workers. The time it would take the management to resolve this issue also remains to be seen.
The commissioner says that all workers in surplus pool would be adjusted at work but a well-placed officer in the utility told The Express Tribune that it would be wise to call the signed document a ‘memorandum of understanding’ rather than an agreement.
It appears that around 80% of the disputes have been resolved and the remaining 20% would be addressed soon, said labour union chairman Akhlaq Ahmed Khan while speaking to The Express Tribune.
“The intensions of the KESC management were not good in the past and if try to deviate from the accord, it would not bode well,” said Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2011.
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