Tag Archives: employees

Disgruntled workers: K-P govt employees to protest outside Imran’s house



SWAT: 

The class-IV employees’ association of Swat on Friday announced to stage a sit-in in front of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s residence in Bani Gala from November 27 for being ignored by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government.

The body’s president, Sayed Khitab, told the media that the PTI-led provincial government was neither upgrading their pay scale nor increasing salaries while the K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had announced up-gradation of scales of clerks.

He said the provincial government had not paid heed to their demands, adding that they were left with no other option.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2014.


Share offloading: PC offers to sweeten the pot for OGDCL employees



ISLAMABAD: 

As the opposition continues to voice its reservations against the ongoing transaction that will see the government sell 10% of its stake in the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), the administration has moved to pacify the concerns.

The opposition, which includes Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and OGDCL employees, has started disrupting gas supplies, causing more concern to the government and investors alike.

Privatisation Commission (PC) Chairman Mohammad Zubair said the government has offered an olive branch to the opposition.

“I have requested the political leadership to engage with the PPP. and the government is also ready to give more incentives to the employees,” said Zubair, while addressing a press conference held a day after the finalisation of ODGCL stake’s floor price. The PC chairman was left to face a barrage of questions over the ill-timed capital market transaction.

The government, which has faced several obstacles in its attempt to go ahead with the transaction, is already struggling to come up with a credible strategy to justify the poor timing that will reduce its earnings by at least Rs15 billion.

Zubair admitted that the government was undertaking the transaction during difficult times.

He said that out of the 322.4 million shares that have been offered to investors, which come to 7.5% of the total shares of the company, about four million will be sold to employees at reduced rates during the second phase. “The government is ready to sit down with the company’s union and discuss more incentives. Some of the concerns of the employees are genuine.”

He said the government would engage the PPP and is ready to discuss the matter further with Senator Raza Rabbani, who is spearheading the anti-privatisation drive.

“Privatisation is also on the PPP’s agenda and the party carried out as many as 27 privatisation transactions during its second stint in power (1993-1996),” Zubair reminded.

The book-building process to sell 7.5% shares of the company began on Wednesday and would culminate at 1 am on Saturday morning, according to Pakistan time. Once the book building finishes, the cabinet committee on privatisation will approve a cut price at which the shares will be sold to the bidders.

The first phase to sell 311 million shares to international and domestic institutional investors at a floor price of just Rs216 per share began on Wednesday. The government has given a 6% discount on the previous day trading of the OGDCL shares at the Karachi Stock Exchange. The discount would alone cause about Rs5 billion losses on last day’s trading.

Zubair defended the decision of providing the discount and said that the government of General Pervez Musharraf had also carried an OGDCL transaction in 2006 and offered a 9.6% discount.

The second phase will begin after a gap of four to six weeks in which out of the remaining 11 million shares, one-third will be offered to OGDCL employees.

The government has initially anticipated earnings of 0 million by selling 322.4 million shares of the company, said Zubair. “Now we are expecting total earnings to be less than 0 million,” he added.

Zubair said due to various reasons, the government would receive a lower share price of between Rs40 to Rs45 — a staggering figure that would cause Rs15-billion loss to the exchequer. But he insisted that the country will be a net gainer, as reduction in oil prices would result in billion savings on the import of oil.

The International Monetary Fund has linked the approval of .1 billion next loan tranche with divestment of OGDCL’s shares. “As a sovereign country, we are committed to our obligations under the IMF programme,” said Zubair.

He said that the delay caused by a stay order granted by the Peshawar High Court on the petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led provincial government and the sudden fall in oil prices in the international market reduced the government’s earnings.

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

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Power trip: When NICVD employees negate, all Sindh has to do is legislate



KARACHI: 

The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) is likely to lose its autonomous status as soon as the Sindh government passes the law to take over it.  All the powers and functions of the board of trustees shall then vest in and be exercised by the governing body under the chairmanship of the chief minister of the province.  “After this law, every member of the trust or this autonomous body will cease to hold office,” proclaims the bill, prepared by the provincial government.

The governing body, headed by the chairperson, will comprise nine other members including the health secretary, health department’s director-general, NICVD executive director, a nominee of the accountant-general of Pakistan, an elected mayor of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), a nominee of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a social worker and two other persons to be nominated by the government. The majority of the board members will be nominated by Sindh government itself.

Simply put, the government will now dominate the board’s policies. The accounts of the institute will be maintained in a manner which the accountant-general of Sindh may determine in consultation with the government.

According to the law and parliamentary affairs minister, Dr Sikandar Mandhro, the ‘National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (Sindh Administration) 2014′ is being passed in view of the 18th Amendment, because the subject of health has now been devolved to the provincial governments. “Earlier, the NICVD was under the domain of the federal health minister. It now works under the Sindh government,” he explained. “We just want to make the law to be able to regulate and control its affairs at the provincial level. The Sindh government will not interfere in its affairs and the institute will retain its autonomous position and governing body which will be independent to make any decisions,” he said.

Contrary to the minister’s claims, however, the bill which is likely to be passed in the next session of the assembly, states: “In discharging of its functions, the governing body shall be guided on questions of policy by the instructions given to it from time to time by the government. The governing body will be bound to carry out such directions.”

What is ironic is that the legislation comes at a time when the issue of devolution of the NICVD is pending before the Sindh High Court as well as the Islamabad High Court. Post 18th Amendment, the employees of this institution had challenged the decision to hand it over to the Sindh government. “Our main demand is to retain the autonomous nature of this institution,” claimed a senior official of the NICVD, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We don’t care if it comes under the Sindh government or the federal government. It should just work independently and be free of any political influence.” Referring to the upcoming law, he said that the Sindh government wanted to grab all the powers. “But we will resist this move at every forum.”

Around 900 permanent employees are currently employed by the NICVD that generates its own funds to run the prestigious cardiac hospital. This is in addition to the Rs700 million that is now given to it in grants by the Sindh government.

The status of the employees, however, is currently on deputation. “We are hanging in the balance as all promotions of employees have been suspended since the promulgation of the 18th Amendment on April 8, 2010,” said Dr Malik Hameedullah, the NICVD’s administrator.

According to him, they cannot take any important decisions and all matters are pending due to the absence of a governing body. “There are several vacant positions that cannot be filled with the approval of the governing body,” he said. “Besides, administrative affairs have also come to a standstill.” Malik added that the government had assured to address all their concerns through the legislation. He, however, put little hope in the legislation. “I have seen the draft of the bill. It is almost the same law under which we have been working prior to the devolution.

Legal experts, on the other hand, say that the law cannot be passed because the matter is sub judice. “Not only is the issue pending before the SHC, the Islamabad High Court has opposed the decision to hand over the institute to the Sindh government by declaring the notification null and void,” said Azam Khan, the lawyer who is representing the NICVD employees in the case in the SHC. He added that the upcoming legislation will be questionable until and unless the court gives the verdict.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2014.


United front: Employees say no to ODGCL privatisation



DERA GHAZI KHAN: 

Scores of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (ODGCL) employees in Dera Ghazi Khan on Friday protested against police action against their colleagues in Islamabad.

Employees Union Secretary General Tabassum Tauqeer Qasrani led the protest.

The protesters boycotted work and marched to Dhodak plant where they chanted slogans against the government.

“Our colleagues were protesting against proposed privatisation of the ODGCL,” he said.

“Police resorted to baton charge and threw tear gas at 300 workers,” he said.

He said privatisation of the ODGCL would be opposed at all forums.

“We will continue to protest until the government clarifies its intentions about the future of the organisation,” he said.

He said the ODGCL was one of the most profitable public sector corporations. He said the country earned Rs200 billion through the ODGCL.

“Privatising a profitable organisation would be tantamount to robbing millions of Pakistanis,” he said.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab on Friday informed the National Assembly that the government had no plan to privatise the OGDCL.

He assured the parliament that no employee would be laid off.

He accused some OGDCL employees of unlawful assembly in the capital and injuring a deputy superintendent of police (DSP).

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2014.


Out the window: Petition seeking hike in salaries of prison employees dismissed



PESHAWAR: 

The Peshawar High Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking an increase in salaries of superintendents, assistant and deputy superintendents posted in prisons across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Lal Jan Khattak dismissed the petition after hearing arguments and replies from both the government and the counsel of the petitioner.

During the hearing, petitioner Zahir Shah’s counsel Zakir Hayat told the bench that salaries of superintendents, assistant and deputy superintendents are very low because of which they are facing numerous problems. The court was also informed that the government of Punjab had raised the salaries of prison employees to around 150%. Not only were their salaries increased, their positions were also upgraded; the same should be granted to employees in K-P, argued Hayat.

Counsel for K-P’s finance department, Shumail Ahmad Butt, and Additional Advocate General Qaiser Ali Shah appeared on behalf of the government. They said the provincial government recently gave two increments to prison employees.

“Prison employees were given Rs100 as a washing allowance and Rs1,000 for ration. The Punjab government has a larger budget than K-P so it increased salaries according to its resources,” said Butt.

The court later dismissed the petition after going through the arguments of both the government and the petitioner.

On August 20, the K-P government announced plans to construct seven high-security prisons in the province. Besides construction of a high security prison in Mardan, six more will be constructed in DI Khan, Kohat, Bannu, Lower Dir, Haripur and Mansehra.

As soon as the prison in Mardan is complete, high-profile inmates will be shifted via helicopter. There, they will be kept in 127 specially designed cells under three-layered security walls, with the boundary wall being bomb and bulletproof.

Bail granted

The single-member bench of Justice Ikramullah Khan granted bail to a suspect arrested with heavy weapons while he was on his way to allegedly smuggle them to Punjab.

The court was informed by accused Ismail’s counsel Advocate Asad Danyal Chamkani that Badhaber police stopped his client’s vehicle on suspicion on August 26. Ismail, however, fled and left his driver behind who was detained by the police. Police also seized 500 pistols, nine AK-47s and 6,000 rounds of ammunition from the vehicle.

The petitioner added his client was arrested after the driver’s statement on September 9. The lower court earlier rejected the bail application of the accused. However, the high court ordered the release of the accused after furnishing two surety bonds worth Rs0.5 million.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2014.


Shown the door: Decision to reinstate 73 govt employees overturned



PESHAWAR: 

The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday declared the decision of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to reinstate 73 sacked Local Council Board employees as null and void. 

The division bench of the SC Peshawar Branch Registry, comprising Justices Mian Saqib Nisar and Sheikh Azmat Saeed, endorsed the decision of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to sack the employees while hearing an appeal against the PHC decision.

The attorney of the Local Council Board, Malik Haroon Iqbal, told the bench that the previous provincial government appointed candidates as sub engineers and administration officers based on political affiliation rather than merit.

Iqbal stated that when the present government assumed power, it terminated 73 employees from service because they were not appointed through the proper procedure.

“Once removed, the employees approached the PHC, which subsequently suspended the provincial government’s order and reinstated them. The decision of the high court was not based on facts and many legal points were not considered,” the counsel argued.

The division bench upheld the decision of the K-P government and declared the verdict of PHC to reinstate the employees as null and void.

On July 4, the PHC bench of Justices Yahya Afridi and Musarrat Hilali set aside the provincial government’s decision of not issuing posting orders for employees of the Local Council Board. The decision was declared illegal and the government was directed to issue posting orders.

The petition of the sacked employees stated that authorities had advertised for positions of accountants, sub engineers and administration officers on March 11, 2013. It added that the candidates were selected for employment after being tested and all legal formalities being completed.

“The petitioners are neither being given jobs on their appointment letters nor are they being sent for training. They fear that duties are not being assigned due to ulterior motives and mala fide intentions,” it read.

“The whole exercise of testing and interviewing was conducted and eligible candidates were issued appointment letters afterwards. However, the refusal of the respondents to issue posting orders and release the salaries of the petitioners is against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” the counsel of the employees had stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2014.


Unmotivated employees: Ill-equipped workers reluctant to clean up during Eid



KARACHI: 

If the chief minister and commissioner had not called an urgent meeting to pacify the municipality’s sanitary workers, the city would have been quite dirty.

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) sanitary workers had refused to work with the few machines at their disposal. The city will sacrifice nearly 0.8 million animals in the three days of Eidul Azha and it needs the sanitary staff to work diligently to dispose of the animal waste.

The president of KMC’s collective bargaining union, Syed Zulfiqar Shah, told The Express Tribune that the municipalities are facing a dearth of equipment. “Of the 1,200 vehicles that we have, nearly 50 per cent are out of order,” he said, adding that the batteries and tyres of the remaining ones are also out-of-order.

Another problem that these workers have is that they have not been paid the honorarium from last year’s Eidul Azha. This bonus amount is paid by the government to these workers to appreciate their work but the amount from last year as yet to be released. “How can the government expect them [workers] to work willingly now,” he asked.

“Last year, several workers were injured during Eid service as 50 per cent of the vehicles were either out-of-order or were malfunctioning,” Shah pointed out. Even if the animal waste is lifted, Shah admitted their vehicles will not be able to spray different neighbourhoods. “This is the real picture and people must be prepared for it,” he said.

He advised people to dump their animal’s waste at designated dumping points so they can be lifted on time. “People must help us and avoid putting the remains on roads, streets, parks, empty plots and into drains,” he said.

Last week, when the commissioner and the KMC administrator met the sanitary staff, they requested them to carry out their duties during Eid and assured them their honorarium would be released after Eid.

To protest the delay in payment, the union’s president threatened the officers that their workers will wear black armbands when they carry out cleaning work during the Eid holidays. An urgent meeting was called at the chief minister’s house on Saturday, when the commissioner and the KMC administrator tried to convince the workers to work during the Eid holidays. They assured them that all their problems would be resolved after Eid.

“I know the crises are serious but for the sake of the city, the staff must perform its duties,” commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui requested. “We cannot leave the city with several types of diseases,” he added.

Meanwhile, KMC administrator Rauf Akhar Farooqui admitted that the situation of the corporation was not ideal. “But we have to work, we have to own the city,” he said. He claimed to have settled the honorarium issue of the KMC staff and assured that the machinery issue will also be resolved as soon as possible.

CBC dedicates 900 vehicles

The Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) will dedicate 900 vehicles for cleaning up after the sacrifices, said Kabir Ali, the head of the sanitation’s staff at CBC. Nearly 1,000 of our sanitary staff workers will be performing duties on all three days of Eid, he said.

“We will perform our duty all days and nights and a 24-hour emergency help line will also be working,” said Ali, adding that they will spray the entire neighbourhood after the remains are lifted. In case of any complaints about cleanliness, the CBC team can be contacted at 021-35847839 and 0333 314 2662.

Vehicle POWER

Number of vehicles dedicated to cleaning during Eid

District South             200

District West              210

District East               200

District Malir              230

District Central          260

District Korangi          180

CBC                             90

Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2014.


Roof goes up: PM okays 35% rent allowance hike for govt employees



ISLAMABAD: 

The prime minister has approved 35 per cent increase in the rental ceiling for over 500,000 federal government employees across the country.

The Ministry of Housing and Works forwarded a summary requesting a 100 per cent increase in the house-rent ceiling for all federal government employees, which would have cost around Rs7 billion. The supporting argument was that this would reduce demand for government accommodation, especially in the federal capital. A ministry official said that the approved rental ceiling would cost about Rs2.5 billion.

“The Prime Minister only approved a 35 per cent increase because of the economic crunch in the country,” commented Housing and Works Minister Akram Khan Durrani.

On September 23, the minister told the Senate Standing Committee on Housing and Works that there were about 19,500 applicants in Islamabad alone who wanted government accommodation. “If the PM approved the summary for doubling the house-rent ceiling, the demand for on government housing may reduce to some extent,” he stated.

House-rent allowances are granted to eligible government employees who are not living in government housing. According to ministry records, there are about 172,000 federal government employees in Islamabad Capital Territory.

A ministry official said on the condition of anonymity that the 100 per cent hike was proposed after a countrywide market survey and an analysis of inflation trends.

The government has increase the rental ceiling after four years, the usual time-frame of reviewing the process.

Pakistan Public Works Department Director General Attaul Haq said the hike will decrease pressure on the ministry, which was flooded by complaints regarding the lower ceilings.

All not well at ministry

Since the arrival of the new minister in June, the ministry has yet to see the appointments of heads of several departments that have spent years with the positions vacant. National Housing Authority and Pakistan Works Department both lack directors general, the latter since 2009.

Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation Director General Waqas Ali is a grade-19 officer but also holds acting charge of joint secretary (grade 20). Meanwhile, Estate Office Management is being run by a section officer for the last three months.

The absence of officers and arrival and departure of secretaries has put many projects on halt. Announced by the prime minister in October last year, the PM Housing Scheme plan entails building 500,000 houses in five years. The government has also allocated Rs60 billion for the project in the current budget but no further progress.

The minister has also accepted that there was already delay in the housing schemes of capital and soon the hurdles would be removed.

Besides, 588 housing units are also being developed on Kuri Road under Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation (PHAF). The project was started in March 2012 and was due for completion in 18 months, but the ministry has yet to settle issues between the contractor and the department.

Construction of over 3,200 residential plots of Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) in Bhara Kahu has also been in the doldrums since 2009.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2014.


Pending dues: PWD employees to protest today



ISLAMABAD: 

Employees of the Pakistan Public Work Department (PWD) have decided to start protest from today (Wednesday) against the stoppage of their salaries.

During a meeting of the PWD union on Tuesday, it was decided to start protests outside the main office of the department. The employees claimed the government has decided not to give monthly salaries of lower employees from grade 1 to 7 on Eidul Azha which is scheduled to fall October 6, most likely.

The employees requested the prime minister to look into the matter and order the Ministry of Finance to release the salaries of 3,000 PWD employees across the country. “It is unfair that thousands of employees will celebrate their Eid without salary. It is prime responsibility of the govt to ensure the release of salaries in time,” said Malik Methab Khan, secretary general of the CBA union of PWD employees.

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


Contractual employees: IHC orders formation of commission to regularise services



ISLAMABAD: 

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday ordered the federal government to constitute a commission for regularisation of over 100 daily-wage and contract employees and decide their fate in three months.

Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing identical petitions filed by 117 employees of various government departments, directed the government to constitute a commission comprising members of secretary-level and decide the matter in three months.

The employees claim the government has adopted a ‘discriminatory policy’ against them and requested the court to pass the order of their regularisation.

The petitions were filed by the people working in the education and health departments, Auditor General of Pakistan, National Commission for Human Development, Pakistan Public Works Department, Capital Development Authority and others. The petitioners’ counsel, Shoaib Shaheen, maintained that his clients are working in different government departments since many years, however, the government has yet to regularise them despite the recommendation of a committee which was formed by the previous government.

The counsel maintained that it was discriminatory that half of the employees were regularised by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government and the other half were deprived of it. He informed the court that the previous government had formed a cabinet sub-committee for the regularisation of daily wagers headed by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Khursheed Shah, which recommended their regularisation.

It is noted that IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had declared null and void the recommendation of the committee but in May this year, a two-member bench of the court set-aside that decision.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.