Pay back: management fires at protesting workers

Protest soon turns into riot as labourers ransack factory.

Express August 27, 2011


A worker’s protest suddenly turned violent near Khurrianwala Road on Friday.

According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of workers of a local factory situated at Faisalabad-Khurrianwala Road began throwing rocks and bottles at the administration after the manager of the factory and his guard resorted to firing to disperse the crowd.

“Dozens of people were injured because bottles were flying in every direction,” said a protester Amar.  The workers were protesting against the non payment of their salaries and demanded an immediate release of their outstanding benefits. “The factory owes us three months salary and benefits and Eid is coming. We have been asking them for the money for months,” said a factory worker Shahram Sultan.

The workers contended that they were suffering after several local textile and other factories decided to lay off workers a few months ago. “They aren’t even paying the workers they kept on. I’d rather have been laid off so I could at least have found a paying job,” said a protestor Mubasshar.

Several protestors said that they had not been paid for five months and that the administration kept telling them they would receive their pay within a couple of weeks. “Those couple of weeks have become 5 months and now we will see the management give us our money or we will set fire to the place!” said Mubasshar.

The workers also said that labourers who were removed from the services on various pretexts had not been paid their legitimate benefits or severance pay.

The workers staged the protest rally for the payment of their dues, when two managers of the factory and a guard began firing on the crowd. The workers in turn began throwing bottles, rocks and burning sticks at the factory and ransacked the place. “They broke into the gates and began destroying machinery,” the guard Haji Asad Khawar said.  The workers said that nearly 200 workers were dismissed from service without payment and they were tortured when they demand for their dues. They also blamed the factory owners and other management staff for victimizing them and implicating them in various false criminal cases. A police contingent immediately rushed to the spot and took dozens of people into custody including armed persons from the factory. Police arrested Raiz Ahmad, Muhammad Iqbal, while General Manager of the Factory M Sarfraz Khokhar and his six other associates fled the scene. Balochni Police have registered a case against 12 accused on charges of firing, threatening for dire consequences, injuring, and taking law into their own hands. Over 11 injured people have been sent to Allied Hospital for treatment.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.


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