While the rest of the country prepares to celebrate Eidul Fitr, nearly 1,000 low grade employees of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) have been languishing without pays for the past six months.
Though the administration cites shortage of funds, employees allege that PTDC Managing Director (MD) Mir Shahjahan Khetran has been hiring people illegally, depriving old employees of their salaries. “We have been struggling hard to make both ends meet without salaries,” said Wajid Yaqoob Awan, president of PTDC Employees’ Union, on Thursday.
According to Awan, their salaries range from Rs14,000 to Rs30,000 and they are surviving on savings or through loans.
On June 27, the employees set up a protest camp near the MD’s office. Since then, a large number of employees from across the country have staged demonstrations in Rawalpindi, observed strikes and lodged complaints to the inter-provincial coordination minister and secretary.
Employees from outside Rawalpindi are living in a hotel close to the camp with their own expenditure, said Akbar Khan, PTDC Motel’s in charge in Astak.
“The MD says there are no funds for the salaries,” he added. However, the protesters allege the MD has been hiring people by take bribes, even though the corporation is supposedly short of funds.
Gohar Ayub, hired a few months back, said he paid Rs450,000 in bribes to get a job four months ago. He is still waiting for his first salary.
The missing Rs250m
But unsanctioned appoints aren’t the only thing wrong with PTDC’s affairs. Union leaders claim nearly Rs250 million are missing from their provident fund. Family members of deceased employees have also not been paid their due amounts, according to Awan.
Awan demanded a transparent audit of PTDC accounts. He warned that the protesters will suspend the Lahore-Delhi bus service and shut down the tourism information centres at airports, railway stations and bus stands if their salaries are not paid this month.
Khetran, when contacted, said he was negotiating with the employees and would brief The Express Tribune later. Later, despite several attempts, he could not be contacted.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.