Wapda employees go on strike against sell-off plan

PESHAWAR, Dec 8: Employees of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) in Peshawar on Thursday boycotted work and took out a rally on the Sher Shah Suri Road near the press club before staging a sit-in there against the government`s plan to privatise their organisation.

Chairman the Pakistan Wapda Hydroelectric Central Labour Union Haji Mohammad Iqbal, deputy chairman Mustajab Mazdooryar, deputy secretary Ali Syed and secretary information Gohar Ali Gohar led the protestors, who blocked both Saddar Road and Sher Shah Suri Road for some time.

Holding banners and placards inscribed with anti-privatisation messages and shouting slogans against the government, they warned that if the government didn`t withdraw its plan to sell off Wapda, the nationwide employees of the organisation would observe complete strike and suspend electric supply.

Mr Gohar Taj, Mustajab and other speakers rejected the Wapda privatisation plan and warned that Wapda employees were ready to render all kinds of sacrifices to block it. They accused the government of privatising national institutions, including Wapda, at throwaway prices.

They said agreements with independent power producers and rental power unit owners exposed the government`s corrupt practices, adding that the people were subjected to prolonged power outages and high electricity tariff.

The speakers said energy crisis had led to closure of many industrial units and massive job cuts but the government had closed its eyes to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Pesco (Pakistan Electric Supply Company) employees in Lakki Marwat on Thursday took out a rally against the proposed Wapda privatisation and appointment of a chief executive to the company from the private sector.

The rally began from Tanchi office of TMA Lakki Marwat and ended at the press club after marching on Lakki-Mianwali and Old Kutchery roads.

Led by divisional chairman of the Pakistan Wapda Hydro Central Electric Labour Union Haji Jamal Shah Abakhel, protesters carried banners and shouted slogans against the proposed Wapda sell-off.

Earlier, the union office-bearers had a meeting in Tanchi office and decided not to let the government privatise Wapda saying the plan would hurt interests of thousands of employees.

They demanded that power distribution companies be placed under Wapda supervision to contain loadshedding and ensure provision of electricity to people at affordable rates.

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