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WSSP staff calls off strike after turning Peshawar into garbage dump

By Riffatullah
April 12, 2023

PESHAWAR: Sanitary staff of Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) called off the strike after Local Government Elections & Rural Development Department released their salaries.

The staff was on strike for the last four days in protest against the non-payment of their salaries. Previously, WSSP employees used to get salaries on the 28th of every month.

The WSSP management staff cites multiple reasons for the delay in payment of their salaries. Talking to The News, WSSP officials at the different zones claimed that the file for payment of salaries for the month of April was moved on March 2. However, it remained stuck at LGE & RDD and then at the Finance Department - thanks to traditional red-tape culture.

The company is facing financial problems for the last several months after the provincial government refused multiple requests to increase its annual budget. The Christian staff for the first time was not given salaries to celebrate Easter. The city was turned into a dumping ground due to a four-day strike of the employees - a nightmare for its residents. Streets were littered with garbage due to which drains remained clogged and started overflowing. The officials at zonal offices said the company would get annual funds when the company was established in 2014.

The Finance Department then started releasing quarterly funds and then decided to pay it on a monthly basis, making it almost impossible for the company to run its administrative and operational affairs smoothly. “Up to 60 percent of our funds goes in salaries to TMA officials working on deputation in WSSP,” the official said.

They said the WSSP is still getting the same funds allocated in 2014 when petrol used to be sold at around Rs84 per liter. Prices have quadrupled since then without a single penny increase in funds, they added.

Moreover, sanitary staff of TMAs handed over to WSSP gets annual pay hike, prices of parts, machinery and equipment have quadrupled. “Bureaucratic hurdles in the shape of red-tape, incapability of the top management of the company to lobby successfully to get extra funds and political interference are among the major causes that are leading to failure of the company,” a senior zonal official told The News while requesting anonymity.

The current management, whose foremost responsibility is to work on ways and means to find ways to make the company self-sustainable, do successful lobbying to convince the government and get its funds increased, the officials said, adding they have miserably failed.

“The company could not get a permanent general manager HR for the last eight years, while the general manager (operations) was headed by a 67-year old retired chief engineer of the Irrigation Department,” said one of the officials.

The officials were unanimous on the point that it is during this management (comprising CEO, GM Operations and GM Planning, monitoring and evaluation who also holds acting GM HR posting tenure) that the company suffered financially and from a performance point of view.

“Instead of strengthening the company, the governor and mayor since day one are demanding the abolition of the multi-billion asset holding company just for political reasons,” another official said.