“Electricity workers are always on the frontlines. Linemen put their lives at stake to provide electricity to consumers throughout the entire country,” said Khurshid Ahmad, general secretary of All Pakistan WAPDA Hyrdo Electric Union (CBA) on Wednesday. He was addressing a protest demonstration against privatisation in front of the press club.
Ahmed said privatisation of Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) had failed to improve service delivery. “[Minister for Water and Power] Khawaja Asif has stated on record the KESC owes money to the government,” he said.
He said the KESC received a government subsidy on electricity on subsidised rates but had still failed to provide it efficiently in its network.
“2,000 people in Karachi died this year due to excessive load shedding by the KESC,” he said.
He told workers that if the government went ahead with its privatisation plans, they would lose their jobs.
“When they privatised the PTCL, they banned trade unions and fired a lot of workers,” he said. He said their future was at stake.
Various union leaders also spoke on the occasion, urging workers to unite in against attempts to privatise power distribution companies.
“If you think that the government has given up its plans to privatise electricity, you are mistaken,” said Sardar Fasih, chairman of the union’s Kasur chapter.
He said privatisation plans were in final stages of completion. “Workers must unite to protest this. They have been given no say in the matter,” he said.
Chaudary Javed, zonal chairman of the construction circle, said due to excessive load shedding 2,000 people had died in Karachi.
“No one was willing to take responsibility. The government and KESC pointed fingers at each other as thousands of lives were lost,” he said.
He said provision of electricity was the responsibility of the government.
The union has been protesting the proposed privatisation of power distribution companies for nearly a year.
The distribution companies expected to be privatised first are the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO), Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) and the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO).
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2015.