In an important development, the board of Utility Stores Corporation (USC) finally assured the workers union to implement the decisions that had been taken in October, 2018 and urged them to call off the countrywide strike. The workers of Utility Stores had gone on strike on last Friday due to non-responsive behavior of the Government and the USC management regarding their concerns and demands.
The chairman of CBA union Mr. Arif Hussain Shah revealed that they had called off the strike on assurance from the management (resolving the issues in 10 days) however the workers could resume it in case of non-compliance of said assurances. When asked, Shah told that one of their key demands was to regularize the services of contractual employees and daily wagers.
“Our top demand from the Management is to regularize the contractual and daily wage workers”, Chairman CBA union
After the announcement of strike spread around the media, the management of USC immediately negotiated with the representatives of CBA union and told them that the ad hoc relief allowance that had been announced and notified by the Government in year 2017 and 2018 would be paid to the workers of Utility Stores in monthly installments during the next financial year.
The said agreement had been signed between the union and the Ministry of Industries (then headed by Abdul Razzaq Dawood) in year 2018 however in spite of several attempts from the union to persuade the USC management and the Ministry for its implementation, things remain unchanged. Ultimately the union on Friday (One day before Ramadan) made a strike call and about 4, 000 outlets of Utility Stores Corporation (USC) were closed leaving the consumers helpless in terms of purchasing the necessary food items for the holy month. Responding to the closure the Managing Director of HR department of USC , Brig (R) Hamid Usman, announced through a notification on Friday noon about upraising the minimum wage (per month) of the daily wage workers from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 17,500 w.e.f July, 2019. Moreover the annual increment for all employees (due since last December, 2019) was also approved and would be paid to them in equal installments on regular basis from the current month. When asked why the implementation of Government’s ad hoc relief policy had been delayed up till now, the official of Ministry of Industries and Production told that the poor financial condition of Utility Stores did not permit to bear this extra burden. The Government of Pakistan in its recent initiative approved a package of Rs. 50 billion for the USC to clear the bills that had been pending since January 2020 as well as for new orders.
“Abdul Razzaq Daud misguided the PM Imran about the Financial position of Utility Stores Corporation”, blames Arif Shah
Meanwhile, the chairman of CBA union Arif Shah criticized Abdul Razzaq Dawood and the USC management and held them responsible for the poor financial condition of the employees of Utility Stores since they (Dawood and USC management) had been misguiding the Prime Minister about the financial condition of the USC and it was nothing else than a tactic to keep the salaries of the employees low. He further added that a letter had also been sent to the new Minister of Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar to consider the matter on serious note and make a positive decision in this regard.