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Sindh to consult financial and legal experts on Steel Mills issue


January 17, 2021

The committee formed by the Sindh cabinet on the issue of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) has decided to avail the services of financial and legal experts to safeguard the rights of the workers of the PSM in the best manner possible and to also save the company from privatisation.

The decision was taken on Saturday as the cabinet’s committee in question held its second consultative session at the provincial assembly with labour leaders and representatives of the protesting workers of the PSM.

Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani, who also attended the meeting, said on the occasion that the provincial government’s stance on the issue of the PSM was very clear.

They said they have been holding consultations with the stakeholders on the issue, adding that a prolonged struggle needs to be waged to safeguard the rights and interests of the workers of the PSM.

They lamented that the issue had not been discussed in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests. They vowed that the issue of the PSM workers would be vociferously raised in the PA and the Senate, where the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) legislators were in good numbers.

They said that a resolution would be moved in the PA next week to urge the federal government to transfer the control of the PSM to the provincial government.

The ministers said that the PPP is a pro-labour political party and it will do its best to safeguard the interests of the workers. They said the PSM is like a national asset, so every effort will be made and option used to save it from getting ruined.

The cabinet’s relevant committee held a two-hour consultative session to seek suggestions and recommendations from the labour leaders and representative of the protesting workers of the PSM to resolve the issue.

The committee’s previous meeting on Thursday had decided on presenting a resolution to the PA to urge the Centre to immediately transfer the PSM’s control to the provincial government to spare it from privatisation and also to secure its employees against the downsizing drive launched by the federal authorities.

Discussing the ongoing sit-in outside the residence of the Steel Mills’ CEO, the committee members said that the workers should continue their protest in a peaceful manner.

The agitation drive should remain completely peaceful and no action should be taken which otherwise could cause harm to the protest drive of the PSM’s labourers, they said.

They also said the provincial government had decided to write to the Centre on the issue, adding that the letter would include the recommendations of the labour organisations of the PSM so as to safeguard the legitimate interests of its workers.

The information minister recalled that casualties had occurred a few years ago during a similar agitation drive of the workers of the Pakistan International Airlines.

He said the PSM labourers should keep their agitation completely peaceful because the federal government was not going to instantly hand over the Steel Mills to the provincial government after receiving its letter.

Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research said that protests needed to be held on a continual basis because the federal government was not going to withdraw from its stance so easily. The masses need to be mobilised on the issue, he said.

He also said that criminal cases were being lodged unlawfully against the protesting labourers. All the participants of the meeting agreed that a solution to the PSM problem could be sought while working with the provincial government.