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‘Sindh to fully help Centre run PSM if workers not sacked’


April 11, 2021

The Sindh government has said that it is going to offer complete support if the federal government intends to operate the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) with the only precondition that its workers should not be dismissed from service.

The provincial information and local government minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, said this on Saturday while speaking at a press conference along with PSM workers at the Karachi Press Club.

In case the Centre was not willing to operate the PSM, then Sindh government was ready to run it in partnership with its workers.

Shah said one viable way to operate the non-functional PSM could be the option of a public-private partnership, as one best example of forging such a partnership was the Thar coal energy project launched by the Sindh government.

He clarified that the PSM kept on operating during the past regime of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s federal government in the country, saying the Steel Mills stopped functioning in 2015 after its gas supply had been stopped.

The minister said the provincial government owned the land of the PSM being a national asset that had played an important role in improving the national economy.

He said that a ministerial committee constituted by the CM had been holding meetings with the representatives of the PSM workers in order to find out a solution.

He said the Centre had not so far positively responded to the overtures made by the CM in order to secure the future of the PSM and its workers.

Recently, several important pieces of equipment and machinery of the PSM were stolen in connivance with mills administration, which had caused concern to the employees, said the minister.

“We have asked the Sindh police chief to register a case of theft and take action against the persons involved in stealing equipment and machinery, and police have been asked to arrest the culprits and investigate who are responsible,” he said.

Shah said the pieces of machinery and equipment were costly and wondered how they the theft happened amid high security at the PSM premises.

Recently the Russian foreign minister visited Pakistan, and the Sindh chief minister requested him to help revive the PSM because it had been in fact established by Russia in the 1980s.

A trade union leader of the PSM said it was incorrect to say that the federal government had paid voluntarily retirement benefits. No worker had received a golden handshake or other benefits, he said, adding that the government had removed over 5,000 workers recently without paying any benefit to them. Karamat Ali, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, said thousands of workers had been rendered jobless in the name of privatisation.

Centre’s revival plan

On April 3, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar had said four companies had showed interest in participating in the government’s plan to revive the state-owned PSM.

In a meeting with office bearers and members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Umar had said the PSM would be functional in the future as four companies had shown interest to run it. In February, the Supreme Court had taken strong exception to the plight of the state-owned Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and sought a comprehensive report on its revival and privatisation plan.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard a case regarding the promotion of the PSM employees.