Riots, strikes, sabotage and sit ins in Karachi
(May – October 2011)
Put up by me on libcom in 2011
Some information, gleaned from the bourgeois press, about recent events in Karachi.
Riots break out against power outages, failure
KARACHI – Riots broke out in different parts of the city on Wednesday over unabated electricity loadshedding, as a tug-of-war between CBA union and administration of KESC has led the consumers of the utility to misery.
According to details, the strike of Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) employees has badly affected the supply of electricity in the city. The KESC workers are not removing technical faults in time in different parts of the city. The loadshedding duration has reached to 8 to 12 hours in different parts of the city while 24 to 36 hours power failures have also been witnessed in different areas. The citizens are also deprived of water as Karachi Water and Sewerage Board claimed that pumping station were closed due to power failure.
The areas including Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Tariq Road, Gulshan-e-Maimaar, Sohrab Goth, Surjani Town, New Karachi, Kornagi 3 and 5, Nazimbad No 7, and Malir are the worst hit areas and people there came to streets, burnt tyres and resorted to intense aerial firing causing an halt to all private and commercial activities in these respective areas.
The President of the CBA union, Ikhlaq Ahmed while talking to The Nation said that workers were not involved in any such conspiracy. He said that workers of KESC were trying to save their jobs, adding, “I don’t know why KESC management are not paying heed to the worst loadshedding in different areas. Our employees first complete their duties and later join the protest in front of Karachi Press Club.”
He said that company’s assets were in trillions of rupees, whereby it could be sold out in Rs 16 millions and twenties department are being tried to have been outsourced. He termed that it is corporate techniques to have the city paralysed, as the load shedding time is accumulating and industries are being shifted from Pakistan to other countries.
However, according to KESC press release, the KESC employees could not attend to faults for the past three days since its various offices had been occupied by protesting workers and their aides. The release further said this certainly required the government’s intervention and support of the law-enforcement agencies, adding that the government agencies should act fast and swift in order to help the utility resume its normal power supply functions and maintenance and repair work in the metropolis as soon as possible.
– from here.
2 newspaper articles from May 10th:
The Karachi Electric Supply Company on Tuesday failed to restore power supply to many city areas even after a passage of over 36 hours as it remained engaged in a tug of war with workers protesting against their placement in a surplus pool.
As the KESC claimed that it could not attend to faults for the past three days since its various offices had been “occupied” by protesting workers and their “aides”, power consumers wondered as to how the power utility was implementing the loadshedding schedule across the city, and that too in such an effective manner.
The top management of the KESC appears to have enlisted the support of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, who ordered the law-enforcement agencies to get the KESC installations vacated from “occupants”.
The KESC management demanded that the governor direct the law-enforcement agencies to protect its assets, offices, equipment and employees from what it described as the “hooliganism” of attackers.
Dr Ibad directed the Rangers and the police to take appropriate action against those responsible for causing damage to the power utility’s installations.
He said that strict punitive action should be taken against those elements that were causing difficulties to the people.
While the governor was extending all-out support to the KESC, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah was extremely perturbed over the situation, which has been gradually getting out of control and leading towards a possible breakdown of law and order……
The KESC on Tuesday appreciated the governor’s role and said that a private company could not be expected to resist “armed attacks by organised gangsters”.
This certainly required the government’s intervention and support of the law-enforcement agencies, it said, adding that the government agencies should act fast and swift in order to help the utility resume its normal power supply functions and maintenance and repair work in the metropolis as soon as possible.
It claimed that the “union’s violent sabotage action is in clear violation of trade union ethics, city`s peace and the orders of the Sindh High Court which had already declared the union`s protest illegal and unjustified”.
“No employees have been sacked and no such action had been taken to demand any kind of protest, let alone a series of criminal and disruptive attacks which have completely disturbed the power supply and maintenance system in the whole city. The union people have hugely crossed their limits,” according to the KESC press release.
“Armed masked men have been attacking the utility`s offices, ransacking office equipment and vehicles, assaulting its officers, engineers and employees, and have completely blocked the repair, maintenance and other work on public requests and complaints for three days,” it added.
Giving details, it stated that armed masked men attacked three assistant executive engineers opposite Korangi Industrial Model Zone IBC on Tuesday afternoon to stop them from working while they were about to enter their office. The general manager of the IBC Gulistan-i-Jauhar was also attacked outside his office but he had a narrow escape. Work was also blocked in the SITE area, including the power supply to industrial units, since morning as armed men had forcefully closed all KESC offices in the SITE area. They also forcefully closed C Division offices of the KESC in Hadi Market Centre and a deputy general manager in the KESC`s Gadap office was forced to vacate his office on Monday at gunpoint. Five officers who intervened were beaten up with iron rods.
A total of 312 cable faults could not be repaired throughout the city because of the sabotage, said the KESC statement.
However, the protesting workers of the KESC rejected the management`s allegations saying that neither they were on strike nor they had stopped anyone from working. They reiterated their stance that the management was not taking any work from them and had hired people to do their job who were occupying their places.
– from here.
KESC accuses protesting workers of disrupting power supplyThe Karachi Electric Supply Company on Monday alleged that its workers, who are observing a strike under the aegis of the power utility’s Collective Bargaining Unit (CBA), have resorted to sabotaging the power supply to a number of areas.
A statement from the company said that the workers, while demanding proper job assignments for around 4,000 employees, sabotaged supply systems and seriously disrupted routine operations as well as the public services provided by the KESC.
As workers continued with their hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC), the suffering of KESC consumers multiplied as on one hand they were forced to endure prolonged loadshedding, while on the other, faults and tripping of the distribution system could not be rectified. The power utility alleged that workers were stopped from performing their duties by the protesting elements within the company. Public service operation and the dealing of various offices and centres of the KESC were also suspended, causing a tremendous amount of inconvenience for power consumers.
The protesting KESC workers, under aegis of their various representative associations including the CBA, have been demanding proper assignment of duties and work positing to around 4,000 workers of the power utility. These workers had earlier been sacked by the KESC as part of its planned downsizing, but were later reinstated after a protest drive.
In a statement, the KESC accused the CBA of deliberately switching off substations and other supply networks, causing blackouts in several areas of the city including SITE, Lyari, Old Town, Mangho Pir, Orangi, New Challi, Defence, PECHS, Gurumandar, as well as Mazar-e-Quaid. The City Courts also suffered a prolonged power outage.
The statement said the protestors also sabotaged 10 high-tension cables feeding power to around 20,000 houses of PECHS, Garden and adjoining areas. Since Saturday morning, the KESC has been facing acute problems with drivers and MTLs (KESC repair vehicles).
According to sources privy to the workers’ protest movement, the leaders and labourers of the power utility stepped up their demonstrations and also extended their actions to the company’s offices after some of the protestors, who were on hunger strike, were denied KESC’s health facilities to treat their deteriorating condition.
Meanwhile, the President of the KESC Labour Union flatly denied the allegations that the CBA or other leaders had called for workers to boycott their official duties and assignments.
“We have been sitting outside the Karachi Press Club and observing a hunger strike to press for our demands. As a show of solidarity with their colleagues, other workers of the KESC have started converging on the Press Club,” said the leader of the CBA. He added that the workers started coming to the Press Club as they were concerned about the health of their representatives and leaders who were on hunger strike for the last few days.
He said that there was no call to stop work and operations in the power utility, nor was there any attempt to sabotage substations in various parts of the city. “We have been just sitting outside Press Club so it is impossible for us to carry out such extreme actions,” said Baloch…..
The statement said the CBA Union’s so-called protest, violent disruption and sabotage has no justification and “is in clear violation of the Sindh High Court’s order of May 7 which had declared the Union’s ongoing protest as illegal and unjustified.”
The power utility said that since the morning of May 9, 2011, CBA Union office bearers and activists, along with some external allies, illegally blocked the utility’s operational activities in various parts of the city. The miscreants forcefully stopped on-duty staff from work, halted maintenance and did not allow on-duty employees from using office equipment and vehicles at most of the utility’s offices, bringing KESC’s essential operations to a standstill across the city.
– from here
Superintendant among five cops injured in clash with flood affectees
KARACHI: At least five policemen, including the Superintendent Police (SP) Keamari Town Tariq Mughal, were injured during a protest demonstration staged by the flood affectees within the jurisdiction of Mauripur police station on Monday.
The protesters, who took to the streets to express their growing disenchantment against the unfriendly attitude of authorities, scuffled with the police personnel. They burnt tyres on the road and pelted stones on policemen and vehicles at Maripur Road, which resulted in injuries to five policemen, including SP Keamari Town, Sub-Inspector Azam Khan, Head Constable Mumtaz, constables Kumar and Naeem.
When contacted, SHO Mauripur Nasrullah dispelled the impression that the protesters were flood affectees, saying although the registration process of flood affectees was completed, the influx was still in progress from rural Sindh.
He said that the protest was aimed at pressing the authorities concerned to allot the land of camp-city to the inhabitants besides demanding essential edibles for the new settlers. Instead of going back to their hometown, the politically motivated protesters were demanding the land of camp-city to be allocated to them. He said that several government officials, including town police officer, executive district officer and deputy district officer reached the spot and tried to negotiate with the protesters who refused to cooperate. The police fired teargas to disperse the enraged protesters during the clash. staff report
– from Signalfire.