TheNews Column about PTCL Workers Strike: strike Rights or wrong By Waqar Gillani

TheNews Column about PTCL Workers Strike: strike Rights or wrong  By Waqar Gillani:

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strike

Rights or wrong

By Waqar Gillani

Hundred of thousands of customers of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) have been suffering for more than a month due to workers’ strike demanding a 50 percent pay raise. Citing the fiscal year 2010-211 budgetary announcement by the federal government, the workers’ union considers pay raise mandatory for regular employees.
PTCL authorities claim the strike is over now and demands of workers have been met. Claiming that most of the workers have come back to work, authorities say only a few ‘miscreant’ elements are provoking some workers to go on a strike and engaging the company in unnecessary litigation.
However, the company has also been issuing show-cause notices, termination letters, and public notices saying, “no work, no pay”, asking the workers to either end the strike or face sacking. If the strike is over, the company should not use these tactics, union leaders say.
PTCL management had announced before Eid-ul-Fitr holidays that it had resolved the issue with its employees and the union had called off the strike. Under the new agreement, it was decided that all the arrested employees of PTCL would be released while their salaries would be paid before Eid. The PTCL management had also agreed to give the employees Eid Award of Rs8000 but the workers union rejected it, saying the strike will continue until all of their demands were met.
The ongoing issue in Etisalat-led PTCL — a government entity privatised in 2004 — started in early August 2010 after workers demanded 50 pay raise in their running basic-pay as announced by the government for the public sector. More than 26,000 telecom workers have been on an indefinite strike since August 16, 2010. The current number of PTCL employees stands at 29,000. Thousands of customers have been waiting for their complaints to be addressed for the past one month.
According to figures available with TNS, more than 200,000 telephone lines of the company are out of order across the country. Reportedly, more than 42,000 telephones lines need repair in Karachi alone. The strike is also compelling businessmen and industrialists to switch over to other wireless communication services (phone and internet) to stay in touch with their local and foreign trade partners.
PTCL had given a raise of 20 percent to its employees, whereas the government had announced a 50 percent increase on the existing pay of public sector workers. The strike had also led to some clashes in the past few days in Islamabad and Lahore. On September 4, a dozen PTCL workers and four policemen were injured in a clash between police and workers.
“Our whole leadership has been arrested after the management lodged cases against us,” Rana Sabir, a PTCL union leader, who is released on bail and is contesting the union case in the high court, tells TNS. “The company is threatening workers and sacking them for not ending the strike,” he complains, adding, “Around 1,000 workers have been terminated with one stroke of pen during the past few weeks without any prior notice.”
“PTCL is a service-oriented organisation dedicated to provide top quality services to its customers. We notice that since August 13, 2010, you — Mr so and so — are not available to perform your duties. This is tantamount to abandoning your employment without notice and you are not interested in remaining our employee. We cannot afford to keep positions open and let down our valued customers. Therefore, we are hereby constrained to terminate your services with immediate effect for the above reasons — non availability to perform services. Your dues as per your service terms (if any) as admissible, will be remitted to your bank account. We wish you best in your future life,” reads one termination letter dated August 23, issued by general manager human resource on behalf of the authority.
“The pay-raise issue has become a permanent problem. We are regular employees and our rights are protected as government servants according to the 1996 verdict of Supreme Court. But, we have to launch protest for pay raises every year,” union leader Sabir highlights. “We have three demands — one; pay raise according to the government rules, two; bonuses as per rules and three; promotion of employees. The federal government has issued circulars telling PTCL to follow the government pay-raise structure for regular employees.”
The union people allege the PTCL management is using every possible means to sabotage the strike. “The management went to the Lahore High Court to stop this strike, but the court refused and directed the management to settle the issue through negotiations. The court had also ordered the management to refrain from any action against peaceful protesting workers. Sardar Latif Khosa, advisor (Information technology) to prime minister, has also requested the PM to intervene and resolve the matter.
“We believe in dialogue and do not want to be threatened by workers’ union for the unjust demands,” Syed Mazhar Hussain, senior executive vice-president (human resource) of PTCL tells TNS. “The strike is almost over. More than 95 percent workers have joined the work. There is no strike in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It is also declining in most parts of the Punjab.”
Hussain says that after privatisation, PTCL is no longer a government organisation enjoying subsidies and other financial benefits. “It is a corporate entity that is liable to 35 percent corporate tax, in addition to 19 percent GST. PTCL has to fight it out with a host of competitors in a fierce, cutthroat environment.”
“PTCL is not bound to give the demanded pay raise. We have a Board of Directors which approves all decisions. The management has already announced salary raise for all its employees. They have been given 30 percent salary raise on running basic pay with an additional 20 percent based on punctuality, conduct and discharge of normal duties over the next one year to be paid with retrospective effect from July, 2010.”
Hussain maintains that in this age of competition, no organisation can survive without bringing performance-based culture and PTCL is striving to introduce this culture. “We are facing difficulties in introducing this culture in a government sold company. We are trying our best to give maximum facilities to our employees, while at the same time competing in an extremely competitive environment.”
“PTCL is paying reasonable salaries to its staff as compared to government pay-scale. The company is also giving them and their families, including their parents, unlimited medical facility.” Hussain claims that High Court, Labour Court and National Industrial Relation Commission (NIRC) have declared the protests and strikes as illegal and have directed the unions to stop all such activities.

3 Comments


  1. WELL DONE
    ALL MEDIA AND BROAD CASTING SHOULD BE REQUESTED TO COMMENT ON THE CRUEL BEHAVIOR OF PTCL MANAGEMENT AGAINST POOR WORKERS


  2. I SUBMITTED E-MAIL TO BBC ,VOICE OF AMERICA, PAKISTAN TAHREEK INSAAF TO RAISE VOICE AGAINST CRUAL ACTION OF PTCL MANAGEMENT against POOR PTCL WORKERS BUT THEY ALL REMAIN SILENT.SHAME
    PLEASE TRY TO REMIND THEM THERE PASSIVE THOUGHT.THANKS
    This site is most important for all the peoples and especially for PTCL employees.. God bless UPON US.


  3. TheNews Column about PTCL Workers Strike: strike Rights or wrong
    I say that the workers are on right way . PTCL management is wrong
    Etisalat is 27 percent and govt of pakistan give to workers 50 percent 100 percent M/A and govt of pakistan 12 percent shairs provided free in govt shairs
    but management is not agree for this. Management not agree for any right of poor workers.MEDIA no helped our poor workers .Media helped all movements of rights but not sport to ptcl worker.PTCL WORKER loyel for PTCL but managementi not loyel.
    SHOUKAT ABBAS
    TOBA TEK SINGH

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