It is a historical day in the sense that Pakistan Government sold 26 percent of the PTCL shares, earning handsome revenue of Rs. 2.6 billion, which would enhance the telecom sector and encourage further investments, the then PM Shaukat Aziz said
No employee of the PTCL would suffer from the process, in which the rulers of both the countries have played an important part, he added on the special occasion to mark the official signing ceremony of PTCL privatization with UAE-based Etisalat held in March 2006 at Prime Minister House.
After lapse of five years, the plight is utterly contrary and the company and its employees have been suffering severe situation since the privatization of PTCL management. Neither the jobs of the employees are safe nor PTCL could retain its growth in revenues and profit.
Dr Hafeez, on the occasion of same privatization ceremony, assured staff on record that no employee of PTCL would be replaced or retired, and their welfare would be well looked after.
But the very next year thousands of employees were sent home by the new management in very next years in the name of VSS.
PTCL total workforce is used to stand at 64,000 employees before 2007, comprising of 56,000 regular and 8,000 contractual. In 2007, more than 40,000 people got retirement from their employments through Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS).
Presently there are more than 15,000 regular employees and 5,000 contractual who have been shifted their status from regular to contractual on insist of the management.
The sitting government is very much concern about the PTCL privatization and termed the process as violation of the rules and producers of privatization commission of the country.
It also alleged the privatization was not a fair and transparent deal. But the government is reluctant to bring the responsible people into accountable as everyone knows the then minister of the privatization was the same person, who is now the minister of finance of the present government, Mr Hafeez Shaikh.
Can any authority, the government or the judiciary asked the assurance given by previous government to the employees?
Another VSS In The Pipeline?
The situation of the employees is extremely uncertain as said by PTCL employees who have been asked to submit their performance reports repeatedly. There were dozens of GMs who were shifted to Islamabad from regional headquarters recently and rest of many executive posts have been shelved off by the management as redundant.
There are fuelling rumors about another VSS despite repeated refusal of the management for avoiding a disrupt situation in the company which it witnessed last year. In 2010, strike, sit-in, protest rallies and duties boycott have become the order of the day in the former national institution as the management did not increase the salary of its employees as per announcement of the government.
There are many incidents reported in which technical staff members have been indirectly and unofficially conveyed that the company wants to get rid of them. They are asked to get training of broadband, otherwise they will be shown doors by the management. The same situation is also prevailing in many departments of PTCL.
Thousands officials at middles and lower ranks are living in uncertainty about their future because they are not confident about their jobs, which are also affecting their performance and professional motivation.
“There is lot of things going on at higher level as few decision about layoffs have been leaked whereas the management is hiding its plan about the future,” said a union leader who requested not to be named.
Whatever is going on is exceptional in the company as I never witnessed it in the past, he added.
Never Ending Hardships
The worst situation was witnessed by retired employees. First the promise of job security was outright ignored and the rest of all pledges were not considered as legitimate and the majority of the retired employees were gradually deprived off from their health facilities.
Some ex-officials are allowed health benefits but these are so called unachievable benefits as they have to strive hard to get company’s panel healthcare facility after lengthy and tiresome process.
It is a dilemma that a staff member of more than 60 years of age, who served the company in his life, now is fighting for his rights in the illness. His family members also face hardship in confronting with PTCL management people.
This is not enough. The retired employees have to face a shocking surprise every year and it also happens this year when hundred thousands of employees have not been given an 8 percent raise in their pension despite the government had announced 15 percent increase publicly in the budget speech 2010-11.
They have filed petition but the verdict has yet to be announced because of delaying tactics of PTCL management regarding hearings’ dates. The poor pensioners of PTCL have been raising voice for their rights, which have been unheard for more than six past months.
The government should intervene into the matter immediately and resolve the grievances of PTCL officials and retired employees as if steps have been taken for securing thousand officials of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC).News Analysis: The Sad Story of PTCL Employees.