Continuing labor unrest at KESC

KARACHI, May 10: The Karachi Electric Supply Company on Tuesday failed to restore power supply to many city areas even after a passage of over 36 hours as it remained engaged in a tug of war with workers protesting against their placement in a surplus pool.

As the KESC claimed that it could not attend to faults for the past three days since its various offices had been “occupied” by protesting workers and their “aides”, power consumers wondered as to how the power utility was implementing the loadshedding schedule across the city, and that too in such an effective manner.

The top management of the KESC appears to have enlisted the support of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, who ordered the law-enforcement agencies to get the KESC installations vacated from “occupants”.

The KESC management demanded that the governor direct the law-enforcement agencies to protect its assets, offices, equipment and employees from what it described as the “hooliganism” of attackers.

Dr Ibad directed the Rangers and the police to take appropriate action against those responsible for causing damage to the power utility`s installations.

He said that strict punitive action should be taken against those elements that were causing difficulties to the people.

While the governor was extending all-out support to the KESC, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah was extremely perturbed over the situation, which has been gradually getting out of control and leading towards a possible breakdown of law and order.

Sources said that the CM was also not happy with the KESC`s top management which avoided according to him a meeting with him and allegedly gave different versions regarding the whole situation to federal ministers Syed Naveed Qamar and Syed Khurshid Shah.

Provincial Minister for Electric Power Shazia Marri made a statement in the Sindh Assembly on the issue and said that the government was trying to meet the management to know its point of view.

The KESC on Tuesday appreciated the governor`s role and said that a private company could not be expected to resist “armed attacks by organised gangsters”.

This certainly required the government`s intervention and support of the law-enforcement agencies, it said, adding that the government agencies should act fast and swift in order to help the utility resume its normal power supply functions and maintenance and repair work in the metropolis as soon as possible.

It claimed that the “union`s violent sabotage action is in clear violation of trade union ethics, city`s peace and the orders of the Sindh High Court which had already declared the union`s protest illegal and unjustified”.

“No employees have been sacked and no such action had been taken to demand any kind of protest, let alone a series of criminal and disruptive attacks which have completely disturbed the power supply and maintenance system in the whole city. The union people have hugely crossed their limits,” according to the KESC press release.

“Armed masked men have been attacking the utility`s offices, ransacking office equipment and vehicles, assaulting its officers, engineers and employees, and have completely blocked the repair, maintenance and other work on public requests and complaints for three days,” it added.

Giving details, it stated that armed masked men attacked three assistant executive engineers opposite Korangi Industrial Model Zone IBC on Tuesday afternoon to stop them from working while they were about to enter their office. The general manager of the IBC Gulistan-i-Jauhar was also attacked outside his office but he had a narrow escape. Work was also blocked in the SITE area, including the power supply to industrial units, since morning as armed men had forcefully closed all KESC offices in the SITE area. They also forcefully closed C Division offices of the KESC in Hadi Market Centre and a deputy general manager in the KESC`s Gadap office was forced to vacate his office on Monday at gunpoint. Five officers who intervened were beaten up with iron rods.

A total of 312 cable faults could not be repaired throughout the city because of the sabotage, said the KESC statement.

However, the protesting workers of the KESC rejected the management`s allegations saying that neither they were on strike nor they had stopped anyone from working. They reiterated their stance that the management was not taking any work from them and had hired people to do their job who were occupying their places.

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