Workplace hazards: Three FESCO employees ‘serious’ after electrocution



FAISALABAD: Three Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO) workers were taken to a hospital in a critical condition after they received an electric shock on Wednesday.

FESCO spokesman Tahir Sheikh told The Express Tribune Muhammad Sarwar, Ahmad Sharif and Zafar Aziz were doing maintenance work at 132-KV Thikriwala grid station when the incident occurred. He said witnesses had told them that they had accidentally touched live wires. They were taken to Allied Hospital by Rescue 1122. Doctors at the hospital said their condition was serious. He said FESCO CEO had taken notice of the incident and formed a team to investigate the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2015.


Imran wants 140 K-P information ministry employees reinstated



Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan wants the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) information ministry to reinstate around 140 employees who were dismissed last year, Express News reported.

In July 2014, the provincial interior ministry had removed around 140 employees as part of a down sizing drive. Of these, 28 were employees were of grade 17 to grade 19.

Taking notice of the situation, PTI chief on Wednesday asked the provincial information ministry to reinstate the removed employees.

K-P information minister Mushtaq Ghani told Express News that these employees were let go under a down sizing drive but later on the ministry felt that there was a dearth of information officers, PROs for ministers.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak took up the matter with PTI chief after the information ministry requested their reinstatement. Subsequently, Imran approved the reinstatement of these officers.


Quota for employees’ children: Court seeks replies in NED admissions policy case



KARACHI: NED University of Engineering and Technology’s vice-chancellor, its academic council heads and the admissions committee have to explain to the court by January 22 the changes in the new admissions policy for employees’ children.

A Sindh High Court division bench, comprising justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Shahab Sarki, was hearing the matter on Friday in a petition filed by an NED employee, Muhammad Athar Ali.

Ali had taken the NED administration to the high court for allegedly taking back the relaxation of obtaining 40% marks in pre-admission entry tests for the employees’ children. His daughter, Maira Fatima, appeared in the entry tests held by the university for 2014-15 sessions and successfully passed it by clinching 40% marks. The student was later informed that she was not eligible for admission as the minimum marks had been revised and increased to 50%.

His lawyer, Azra Iqbal, informed the judges that the NED had introduced the pre-admission entry test policy for the children of its employees and set the minimum qualifying marks at 36%, as mentioned in the prospectus. Later, the benchmark was increased to 40% in 2012-13.

But the university’s admissions committee issued on October 25, 2014, the prospectus for 2015 sessions and declared that an applicant shall have to pass the entry test with at least 50% marks. “This policy has taken away the relaxation for the children of the varsity’s employees,” the lawyer said.

Advocate Iqbal argued that the admissions committee is not competent and legally empowered to introduce any scheme without approval by the syndicate.

Therefore, the new condition of obtaining 50% qualifying marks may be declared illegal and against the statute, she pleaded.

After the initial hearing, the bench members issued notices to the respondents and the provincial law officer to file their comments by January 22.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.


Offering relief: Sacked education dept employees get new lease



PESHAWAR: 

The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday struck down the condition of having the required qualification at the time of appointment for employees of the education department sacked during 1993 to 1996 across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The decision was given by a division bench of Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Lal Jan Khattak while hearing a petition filed by 17 employees of the education department through their counsel Khalid Rehman.

Rehman said that their clients were appointed on different posts such as primary schoolteachers, certified teachers and physical education teachers on various dates between 1993 and 1996.

He added when the new government was elected in 1997, the services of these petitioners were terminated through two orders. They have been voicing their grievances at every forum, but to no avail, said Rehman, adding only some of their colleagues were reinstated with all due benefits when they approached the K-P Services Tribunal in 2002 and 2003.

“In 2010, the federal government, while realizing the miseries of politically victimized sacked employees of 1996-99, passed the Sacked Employees (reinstatement) Act 2010 in view of their long-standing grievances. Through it, all employees appointed by the government and then terminated by the next government on political grounds were reinstated,” states the petition.

The lawyer said the provincial government also decided to reinstate other employees sacked in a similar manner, adding data was collected from them but the matter was then put on the backburner. Finally, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sacked Employees (appointment) Act 2012 was passed and notified on September 20, 2012.

“The policy of appointment of untrained teachers by the education department was fully in vogue at that time and even now, as is evident from the services rules circulated on November 11, 2003,” adds the petition.

All petitioners subsequently acquired the relevant qualifications of the posts against which they were initially appointed, argued Rehman.

The petition added that the condition of possessing required qualification and experience at the time of the first appointment as stated in the 2012 Act was against basic human rights granted in the Constitution.

It also states that the Sindh government faced a similar situation wherein employees were terminated from January 1, 1996 to December 31, 1998 on the basis of political vendetta. However, the Sindh government then issued a simple executive notification on August 25, 2011 and reinstated all sacked employees.

The court was informed that on February 15, 2013, PHC’s Abbottabad registry ordered the reinstatement of district education department officials of Battagram.

“Candidates having less qualification will acquire requisite training and obtain FA qualification within three years, failing which their appointments shall stand terminated automatically,” stated the PHC’s order. The counsel for the petitioners requested the court to declare the K-P Sacked Employees (appointment) Act 2012 to the extent and limit it imposes the impugned condition of possessing the required qualification at the time of first appointment of the petitioners as unconstitutional, discriminatory, self-clashing.

After hearing the arguments from the counsel for petitioners and the government, the court struck down the required qualification of employees during their first appointment and declared the condition illegal.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2014.


Long wait: Another batch of CDA employees regularised



ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority regularised the services of as many as 723 non-gazetted temporary employees who have completed two-year of service at the authority.

The total number of employees whose services were regularised in the previous quarter has gone up to 923, as 200 employees were regularised just two months back.

Another 858 temporary employees, however, are awaiting regularisation. These employees were hired in 2011 during the Pakistan Peoples Party’s tenure in the centre.

“CDA employees have played a vital role in Islamabad’s development. The incumbent management of the authority is committed to addressing their concerns,” CDA Chairman Maroof Afzal said while addressing a gathering at Fatima Jinnah Park. The newly-regularised employees were given their appointment letters during the event.

During the PPP’s tenure, a total of 2,586 temporary employees were hired by the CDA. They included over 1,000 grade-1 gardeners and 10 officials who were hired on contract basis. The rest of the employees were hired on non-gazatted posts including clerks, assistants, and computer operators.

In the final days of the PPP government, an NA panel headed by Khurshid Shah announced the regularisation of nearly 805 employees.

When the incumbent PML-N government came to power in 2013, there were nearly 1,781 temporary employees at the authority, 923 of whom have been given permanent employee status so far.

“We have continuously been pursuing the cases of low-grade employees with the CDA management. I hope the whole process will be completed within a month,” CDA Labour Union Secretary General Chaudhry Yasin said.

CDA spokesperson Asim Khichi said the process of regularising employees was initiated by the incumbent management in light of a CDA board decision from September 30, 2011. The decision was made by the board after reaching an understanding with the authority’s labour union that only those employees who have completed two years of service at the CDA as temporary employees would be eligible for permanent employee status.

A committee was formed to verify the credentials submitted by the daily wage employees at the time of their appointments, Khichi said, adding that the regularised employees fulfilled the requisite criteria for their respective positions. Khichi said all 923 newly regularised employees are non-gazetted staffers.

He added that remaining cases were under the consideration of committees formed to scrutinise the credentials of the remaining employees. He could not provide a time frame for the decisions.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2014.


Senate sages: Senators direct PIMS to disband employees’ associations



ISLAMABAD: 

Instead of working out the problems hampering performance at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), a Senate panel suggested that the hospital simply disband employees associations.

The suggestion was to ban labour unions “that create hurdles” at the hospital as a performance improvement measure. The suggestion, however, could be seen as a violation of the right to unionise, which is a fundamental right of every Pakistani under Article 17 of the Constitution.

Earlier, the Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Thursday put forward its recommendations before the Cabinet for approval to formulate rules to make public hospitals corruption-free as well as for the extension of Polyclinic hospital.

A member of the Senate panel expressed reservations over the challenges being faced by Pims and Polyclinic in providing better healthcare facilities to patients.

They asked the hospitals administration to provide them with a list of doctors and bureaucrats who are creating hurdles in the smooth functioning of hospital affairs.

Committee Chairperson Kalsoom Parveen said that in the last committee meeting, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad assured the committee that issues relating to the handing over of possession of part of Argentina Park for the Polyclinic extension project would be resolved in three weeks.

But the issue remains unresolved, despite approval from the PM and the Argentine Ambassador, she said.

“This extension project is for the betterment of the poor as they are being deprived of the opportunity to get treatment at Polyclinic,” she said.

Expressing her reservations over the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) handling of the issue, she said that city managers “misled” the committee by making pledges during the meeting and later doing the exact opposite.

In response, the CDA Estate member informed the committee that giving part of the park away for construction was a violation of the Master Plan of the capital, adding that several Supreme Court verdicts had barred any construction activity on land zoned for public parks.

Minister of the State Barrister Usman Ibrahim of the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) said he has constituted a steering committee including the Polyclinic executive director, a Planning Division official, and the PWD director general to resolve the land possession issue.

The committee expressed disapproval over the PWD chief being appointed head of the steering committee and suggested that the Polyclinic ED be given the role instead.

Ibrahim said he will consider the recommendation and informed that funds have been allocated to carry out a feasibility report, adding that the steering committee will table the project before the cabinet for approval so that at least ground work could start.

On this, the chairperson of the standing committee said that should be started as soon as possible and that committee members would appear before the SC if it raises any concern over construction of the building in the park.

“This construction work is for the welfare of poor people and in this case no one should have any concerns,” she said.

The committee also expressed reservation over the procurement of medicine by Polyclinic. They said the hospital should purchase through well-known providers rather than smaller ones.

The committee also expressed concerns over the performance of Pims.

Prof Khaleequz Zaman, the PIMS head of Neurosurgery and also the head of the hospital management committee, said a few senior doctors that are creating hurdle for them in working smoothly.

He said hospital staff had been divided between the hospital and Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical Hospital, which is also creating performance issues.

On this the committee members came up with a surprising suggestion to ban all unions in the hospital, despite the fact that unionising is a fundamental right under Article 17 of the Constitution.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2014.


Fed up: LG employees to take to streets from Dec 9



SWABI: Local Government Employees Federation (LGEF), a labour union, has announced it will start demonstrations from December 9 across the province to press for their demands.

While addressing a meeting in Swabi, LGEF provincial president Haji Anwar Kamal said authorities have turned a deaf ear to the demands of local government employees who have been protesting for the past week. LGEF provincial chairman Haji Iqbal Hussain, general secretary Shad Khan and other officials were also present on the occasion.

Kamal added the protesters had even suspended municipal services in different areas but “the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government has no time to address their concerns”.

Kamal said employees are irked by the late payment of salaries, stalled promotions, discrimination and a lack of service structure. He urged the government to regularise temporary employment contracts, adding all the demands are based on basic labour rights.

He added the federation is left with no option but to launch full-scale protests on both the division and district level across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The union president said demonstrations will continue until all their concerns are addressed and threatened to stall municipal services in the province for an indefinite period.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2014.


Fight for rights: Bank employees demand ‘due’ rights



ISLAMABAD: 

The Pakistan Banking Employees Federation (PBEF) has demanded the representation of labour organisations and trade unions in the parliament.

In a press release, the federation’s charter of demand asked the government to reserve 10 per cent seats for workers in the national and provincial assemblies to safeguard their rights.

PBEF has also demanded the reinstatement of hundreds of employees who were sacked from the banking sector and asked both private and public banks to clear arrears of former employees.

The trade union said that pensioners of some private banks were getting as low an amount as Rs2,000 to Rs4,000, while the low-cadre employees have not received a salary raise for years.

The federation demanded that banking employees be given annuity as per the pension rules for government employees.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2014.

 


Municipal employees chant ‘go Imran go’ in Peshawar



PESHAWAR: Municipal employees in Peshawar chanted ‘go Imran go’ and ‘go Khattak go’ in front of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Thursday during a protest demanding increase in pay, Express News reported.

The protesters, who blocked the area causing a major traffic jam, claimed they haven’t been promoted in years and that their pays were not increased.

Police have reached the scene to control the situation and negotiate with the protesters.

It was reported that DCO Saeedul Islam and SSC Operations Najeebullah reached the scene to try and work out a solution for the problem.

However, up till now, no progress has been made as yet.

This is a developing story, and will be updated accordingly. 


Keeping check: FATA Secretariat seeks FIA’s help to trace employees



PESHAWAR: 

The FATA Secretariat has sought the help of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to trace its employees who are abroad.

Following directives of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Mehtab Ahmad Khan, the FATA Secretariat has taken measures to introduce new means and technology to keep a check on its employees and their performances at assigned places.

The measures include a verification process wherein digital pictures and details on the national identity card (NIC) would be matched with those on quittance rolls. After employing the verification methods, two types of missing employees have been found: those who have been absent from their duties but are present in the assigned countries and those who are doing other jobs abroad.

In order to trace such employees, it was decided to approach the immigration wing of the FIA. This would help in finding out the date and place of their departures as well as their arrival back to the country based on their computerised NICs.

These measures will finalise a mechanism with the FIA to check the immigration data of the FATA Secretariat’s employees on a half-yearly basis and to trace those who leave the country without permission. Once found, disciplinary action would be initiated against them.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2014.