Pakistan asks people to report public health violations during second coronavirus wave

In this file photo a family wearing masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus visits a market in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, June 2, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 01 November 2020

Pakistan asks people to report public health violations during second coronavirus wave

  • National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) opens a special phone line to report virus-related violations
  • On Tuesday, the government formally announced the second wave of COVID-19 in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which leads coronavirus mitigation efforts, on Saturday asked citizens to report violations of health precautions as a second wave of the infection is sweeping across the country.

The NCOC’s request and a special phone number to submit reports come days after tighter restrictions were introduced across the country to curb the infection spread. 

"With arrival of the 2nd wave & continued widescale violation of sop's, NCOC has decided to seek citizens help for sop compliance," Planning Minister Asad Umar, who leads the NCOC, said in a tweet. 



On Wednesday, wearing masks in public places became mandatory and NCOC directed provincial governments to ensure that the rule be implemented, particularly in bazaars, shopping malls, public transportation and restaurants. All business centers, wedding halls, eateries and shopping centers need to shut by 10 p.m. from Thursday.

On Tuesday, the prime minister's special assistant on health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, formally announced the second wave of the coronavirus in the country. 

According to government data, 332,993 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Pakistan so far, with 807 in the past 24 hours. There have been 6,806 coronavirus-related deaths.

Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

Updated 29 November 2020

Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

  • PSM management argues the company’s accumulated losses reached Rs212 billion ($1.33 billion) in June
  • The termination of 4,500 contracts is believed to be the biggest layoff from a single entity in Pakistan’s history

KARACHI: Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) employees are going to challenge in court the company’s recent decision to terminate the contracts of thousands of workers, union representatives said on Sunday.

The management of the state-owned company on Friday handed letters of termination to some 4,500 employees, arguing that PSM’s accumulated losses had reached Rs212 billion ($1.33 billion) in June, when the government decided that 9,350 workers would have to be fired for the dysfunctional enterprise to be revived.
“PSM has terminated 4,500 employees in the first phase of government’s plan to lay off 9,350 employees ... The employees have refused to accept this termination they have registered protests and have decided to challenge this decision in court next week,” Mirza Maqsood, President of Voice of Pakistan Steel Officers Association, told Arab News.

Located 40 kilometers from Karachi, Pakistan’s largest industrial complex with a steel production capacity of 1.1 million tons has been dysfunctional for the past few years. Its operations were suspended in 2015.
“Neither the Company has funds to revive the Mills nor are funds available from any other source to revive the Steel Mill. In any case, revival of the mill would require, firstly massive investment and secondly, entail a period of at least two years,” reads a PSM termination letter seen by Arab News.
The layoff was defended by federal Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar, who on Saturday said the terminated employees would be given compensation of Rs2.3 million on average.

“Since the closure of the mill, the government has paid around Rs35 billion as salaries and Rs20 billion as arears to the employees,” he said.

The discharge of workers is said to be one of the biggest layoffs of employees from a single government entity in the country’s history. 
 Karamat Ali, executive director at Pakistan Institute of Labor Education & Research (PILER), said the PSM layoff in unprecedented.
“No such number of employees have ever been fired from a single government institution,” he said.
The decision was also opposed by the provincial government of Sindh, which vowed to support the affected employees. 
“This is wrong and injustice. They (the federal government) must adhere to their earlier stance and commitments of turning the state institutions around with the help of their champions. I am with the employees,” Sindh Labor Minister Saeed Ghani told Arab News.
Mumrez Khan, convener of a representative body of employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers and contractors of PSM, said that no serious efforts have been made by the federal government to revive the mill, claiming that negligence had caused losses even higher than those cited by PSM management.

“The accumulated losses have swelled to $12 billion on the account of closure of plants, revenue to the government and imports of steel products,” he said.