KESC management, union row

KARACHI: Citizens on Tuesday braved a prolonged power load shedding up to nine hours in various areas of the city, which caused protests and traffic jams.

Enraged people amidst hot weather took to the streets and burnt old tyres and furniture. They were carrying placards inscribed with slogans against the administration of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC). The power utility has again increased the load shedding duration by two and a half hours to nine hours.

Angry protesters blocked the city’s busiest roads in Lee Market, Kharadar, North Karachi, Landhi, Surjani, Orangi, Saddar, Baldia, Mauripur and Manzoor Colony for several hours, causing massive traffic jams.

Hundreds of vehicles stranded for at least two hours, while many commuters parked their vehicles in the streets after their fuel exhausted. The protesters also pelted passing vehicles with stones as law enforcement agencies remained silent spectators.

According to citizens, massive power breakdowns and gas failures caused huge losses to citizens and industrialists. The KESC increased load shedding which badly affected the routine life and economic activities in the metropolis. The business community also complained that power shutdowns had resulted in closure of almost all industries. The cottage industries were badly affected by the power outages.

KESC-Workers row continues: The ongoing row between the KESC management and trade unions over lay-off of workers has got on the nerves of citizens, as prolonged power outages and protest demonstrations being a result of their unsuccessful negotiations are making millions of masses to suffer in the provincial capital, PPI adds.

In spite of workers’ city-wide protests in form of a politically-backed wheel-jam strike some days ago, the disregard of management towards the protesting employees still persists with no sign of flexibility.

Having raised the issue by ministers and lawmakers in the provincial assembly many a times, no significant development could be seen on the issue and pledges of officialdoms are yet to be transformed into action.

All workers who have been protesting for more than 45 days have shifted their camp from Karachi Press Club (KPC) to KESC Head Office, Gizri, while only a few workers were seen at the camp outside KPC.

“We have been staging protest demonstrations and sit-ins to record our protest and voice our grievances and will continue to do until our demands are met,” said General Secretary People’s Workers Union Lateef Mughal.

The spokesman for KESC, when contacted, said the utility still stands by its previous stance and he blamed workers for creating a deadlock in negotiations.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the KESC expressed serious concern over the fact that government had not taken any action despite the ‘union miscreants’ were continuing to illegally occupy all the utility’s offices and head office since June 9, forcing the management to function under a very disturbing state of affairs for 12 days now.

The KESC said the management made attempt to open utility’s head offices in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) but union activists besieging the building, blocked all entry points and resisted utility employees and did not let the office to open. KESC management staff tried to enter the head office building at 09:00am. Initially a few employees were able to get inside but as soon as union activists gathered at all entrances of building in groups and blocked gates thwarting all attempts to open the head office.

The KESC employees went to Gizri police station to seek protection for entering office building. Police provided them two mobile vans, which they boarded and police drove the mobile vans into head office. A KESC press release alleged union activists attacked any car coming out of building and attacked employees. They besieged all other KESC offices on Tuesday, damaged and destroyed power supply network, disconnected entire fiber network connection, which went out of order.

The KESC says authorities had not taken any comprehensive action to vacate union siege from various offices of the utility in Karachi and demanded immediate action for opening of all offices and maintenance centres. staff report/ppi\06\22\story_22-6-2011_pg12_1

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