Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

A security guard sits in front of a wall with signs and slogans at the operation building at the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) on the outskirts of Karachi Feb 8, 2016. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 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.

Pakistan ready to tap into Kuwait's skilled labor market — envoy

Updated 17 min 28 sec ago

Pakistan ready to tap into Kuwait's skilled labor market — envoy

  • Pakistan committed to provide skilled labor to Kuwait in line with its Vision 2035 to diversify economy and strengthen relations with Asia
  • Pakistanis make up one of the largest groups of foreigners living and working in Kuwait

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ready to provide skilled workers to Kuwait's labor market, the Pakistani ambassador to the Gulf country said on Thursday, after a meeting with a top official of the Kuwaiti Public Authority for Manpower.
Ambassador Syed Sajjad Haider and Pakistan’s deputy head of mission, Tahreem Ilyas, met with Public Authority for Manpower director general Ahmad Al-Mousa to discuss issues related to Pakistani workers in Kuwait.
"Pakistan is ready to provide experienced and skilled manpower according to the demands of the Kuwaiti labor market," Ambassador Haider said, as quoted in a report by Kuwait Times, which was shared by the Pakistani embassy on social media.

He also expressed hope that the number of Pakistani workers in Kuwait would increase in the future.
In October, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis, Zulfikar Bukhari, said that Pakistan was committed to the development of Kuwait and would provide skilled workforce in multiple sectors aligned with Kuwait’s Vision 2035 to diversify the economy away from oil and strengthen relations with Asia.
Pakistanis make up one of the largest groups of foreigners living and working in Kuwait.