Salary woes afflict HEC workers

Employees threaten to take to the streets against non-payment

Yawar Hayat August 28, 2021


Workers of Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC) Hattar in Haripur said on Friday that they have not been paid salaries for months — ranging from three months to six months.

HEC workers said that they will resort to protest and go on the strike if their pending salaries were not released immediately. The workers also urged the political leadership, provincial and federal authorities to intervene and got them the salaries.

The workers lamented they were already underpaid and the factory’s management had long been deviating from the government policy on the minimum wage. The labourers claimed that most workers were being paid salaries ranging from Rs14,000 to Rs16,000, although the government has fixed Rs21,000 as the minimum wage.

They said that the salary delay and sacking of workers in had become commonplace in the HEC. According to the union officials, the Hattar zone has been turned into a forced labour camp with the alleged nexus of factory owners and the anti-labour mafia.

Razzaq Khan, a labourer who had worked in a company at Hattar, told The Express Tribune that he had been working in the factory for seven years but he was suddenly fired during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to local labourers, representatives of all government agencies working in Hattar were silent on the issue. They said that labourers’ representatives continue to visit the deputy director labour office for the last two years, but to no avail. They said that instead of reprimanding the management of various factories, they insult representatives of labours.

In one instance, they said, the labour law regulatory authority had withdrawn extension for A1 Cement Company after it was found violating the labour laws. However, the company continues to operate even after six months of the cancellation of its registration.

The workers alleged that officers of the labour department were supporting the anti-labour mafia. According to the labourers, a final application has been submitted to the authorities concerned and the deputy commissioner Haripur calling for action against the exploiters and strict implementation of labour laws. They said that if their demands were not met immediately, they will resort to street protests.

The workers said that their representatives had also met Provincial Minister Akbar Ayub Khan and apprised of their problems, but he did not heed their grievances. They said if their salaries were not released immediately, as a last resort, they will go on hunger strike and block roads.

They said that hundreds of thousands of workers in Haripur were being exploited while labour unions struggle to negotiate for their rights. Meanwhile, Deputy Director Labour for Hattar Faizullah Khan has directed the HEC management to resolve the salaries issue of labourers within three days or else legal action will be initiated against the management.

Attempts were made to contact the HEC management to take their version, but no official was ready to give the version.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2021.


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