The Karachi Electric Supply Company on Monday alleged that its workers, who are observing a strike under the aegis of the power utility’s Collective Bargaining Unit (CBA), have resorted to sabotaging the power supply to a number of areas.
A statement from the company said that the workers, while demanding proper job assignments for around 4,000 employees, sabotaged supply systems and seriously disrupted routine operations as well as the public services provided by the KESC.
As workers continued with their hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC), the suffering of KESC consumers multiplied as on one hand they were forced to endure prolonged loadshedding, while on the other, faults and tripping of the distribution system could not be rectified. The power utility alleged that workers were stopped from performing their duties by the protesting elements within the company. Public service operation and the dealing of various offices and centres of the KESC were also suspended, causing a tremendous amount of inconvenience for power consumers.
The protesting KESC workers, under aegis of their various representative associations including the CBA, have been demanding proper assignment of duties and work positing to around 4,000 workers of the power utility. These workers had earlier been sacked by the KESC as part of its planned downsizing, but were later reinstated after a protest drive.
In a statement, the KESC accused the CBA of deliberately switching off substations and other supply networks, causing blackouts in several areas of the city including SITE, Lyari, Old Town, Mangho Pir, Orangi, New Challi, Defence, PECHS, Gurumandar, as well as Mazar-e-Quaid. The City Courts also suffered a prolonged power outage.
The statement said the protestors also sabotaged 10 high-tension cables feeding power to around 20,000 houses of PECHS, Garden and adjoining areas. Since Saturday morning, the KESC has been facing acute problems with drivers and MTLs (KESC repair vehicles).
According to sources privy to the workers’ protest movement, the leaders and labourers of the power utility stepped up their demonstrations and also extended their actions to the company’s offices after some of the protestors, who were on hunger strike, were denied KESC’s health facilities to treat their deteriorating condition.
Meanwhile, the President of the KESC Labour Union flatly denied the allegations that the CBA or other leaders had called for workers to boycott their official duties and assignments.
“We have been sitting outside the Karachi Press Club and observing a hunger strike to press for our demands. As a show of solidarity with their colleagues, other workers of the KESC have started converging on the Press Club,” said the leader of the CBA. He added that the workers started coming to the Press Club as they were concerned about the health of their representatives and leaders who were on hunger strike for the last few days.
He said that there was no call to stop work and operations in the power utility, nor was there any attempt to sabotage substations in various parts of the city. “We have been just sitting outside Press Club so it is impossible for us to carry out such extreme actions,” said Baloch.
The KESC officials failed to point out the exact names and locations of the substations that were allegedly switched off by the protesting elements. The spokesman for the organisation said that under the directives of the KESC Chief Executive Officer, special teams had been assigned with the task of restoring power to the affected parts of PECHS and Garden.
The statement said the CBA Union’s so-called protest, violent disruption and sabotage has no justification and “is in clear violation of the Sindh High Court’s order of May 7 which had declared the Union’s ongoing protest as illegal and unjustified.”
The power utility said that since the morning of May 9, 2011, CBA Union office bearers and activists, along with some external allies, illegally blocked the utility’s operational activities in various parts of the city. The miscreants forcefully stopped on-duty staff from work, halted maintenance and did not allow on-duty employees from using office equipment and vehicles at most of the utility’s offices, bringing KESC’s essential operations to a standstill across the city.