Lahore: Electricity workers protest against overtime cuts and staff shortages at the circle office

On June 22, 2022, Lahore Electric Supply Company LESCO GSO workers staged a sit-in protest in front of the circle office building. The protest’s three main demands were: no overtime reduction, permanent recruitment to fill vacancies, and access to ‘danger’ allowances. Many employees from several grids in Lahore and its suburbs participated in this protest. After a spirited protest at the circle office, most workers decided to protest at the LESCO headquarters. However, the zonal leadership stopped the workers from going to the LESCO headquarters on various pretexts, forcing them to stage a sit-in at the circle office, which was disbanded shortly after without any announcement or further action plan. 

The recent inflation and anti-labour wave have added to the economic woes of WAPDA workers who are already on low wages. One of the horrors is that the salaries have not been increased according to the ever-increasing inflation. On top of that, workers who bear the burden of extreme staff shortages have been issued illegal orders of single overtime for three workers. More ironically, single overtime has been cut by 60 per cent, and this measure has been implemented to eliminate overtime.

Due to these brutal actions of the authority, anxiety and anger are increasing among the workers of GSO WAPDA. In this case, no protest call was ever given by the central and zonal leadership of the union against the reduction of overtime. The workers are suffering quadrupling inflation, increasing pressure of work, and demeaning behaviour towards the workers by the management resulting in severe mental stress.

In this situation, the active and organised workers and the WAPDA workers of Red Workers Front collectively announced to go to GSO Circle and Chief Office LESCO on 22nd June 2022 to hold their protest. On June 22, the workers of GSO LESCO WAPDA made history by gathering in large numbers at the circle office.

It should be noted that the grid stations of GSO are located hundreds of miles away. Workers from four districts and various departments participated, including grid, maintenance, P&I, and clerical staff. They held placards against the deduction of overtime, permanent recruitment on vacant posts, the permanence of part-time and daily wage employees, and disapproval of privatisation.

Apart from overtime cuts and staff shortages, there are many other issues on which the union leadership has been bloody silent. Those problems are as follows:

1. Non-payment of dangers allowance for many years, non-payment of dangers allowance on the pretext of technical and clerical reasons.

2. Non-promotion of diploma base holders for many years.

3. Permanency of sweepers and gardeners who have been working part-time for many years.

4. Non-availability of standard equipment and bucket cranes for linemen to work in a safe environment.

5. Lack of house rent.

6. Shift Allowance

Pakistan Trade Union Solidarity supports WAPDA workers’ struggle. A nationwide strike of LESCO and other institutions facing privatisation and attacks on workers can end exploitations.