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ISLAMABAD: All Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Workers Union CBA is all set to stage another protest demonstration in Islamabad on Monday (today) against the planned privatization of “bleeding” power Distribution Companies (Discos).

To be led by Khurshid Ahmad, Secretary General, hundreds of workers of Discos and hydroelectric entities across Pakistan are scheduled to gather in front of National Press Club, from where they would march towards Parliament. The provincial chapters of the union i.e. Sindh, KP, Balochistan and Punjab will join the demonstration. Workers of other Associations are also expected to join the protest demonstration.

Informed sources told Business Recorder, that delegation of Discos’ workers recently met Secretary Power, Ali Raza Bhutta and made it clear to him that they are ready to take any action against privatization of Discos.

According to Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, Power Division has handed over the record of Discos to the Ministry of Privatization, with the request to expedite the process of privatization or to give management contract to the private sector.

However, one of the top men at the Power Division maintained that the government may perhaps, not privatize Discos due to strong opposition by the workers but would certainly give their management contracts to private parties.

Power Division is well aware that the sell off process of Discos had been initiated by the PML-N Government in 2014, later shelved due to protest demonstrations across the country.

National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has also proposed privatization of Discos to stop bleeding of financial resources as according to the Minister for Energy, 25 per cent of circular debt is because of Discos losses, theft etc. Four Discos, i.e. Sepco, Hesco, Qesco and Pesco are major contributors to losses.

Sajjad Hussain, Secretary Information All Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Workers Union CBA told Business Recorder that the workers will also protest against increase in salaries of some federal government employees.

The Government claims that 125,000 employees of Federal Government will benefit from “agreed” increase in salaries, if this statement is true, then it clearly shows that 140,000 workers of Wapda and Discos, who are also federal government organizations, have not been included in the pay raise formula, he added. “The pay raise structure is vague. We think, the government wants to buy time till March 2021,” he continued.

The workers union are asking the Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene and reduce the prices of essential commodities including petrol and diesel and raise the wages and pension of the working class by at least 50% given that there has been no increase in their salaries for more than 1 ½ years causing economic and social suffering to the working class.

Workers further argue that those Discos and profitable national power houses like Guddu; Nandipur should not be privatized as they are providing good service to electricity consumers adding that the privatization of KE has failed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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