Rights of 3,000 workers threatened, Pakistani union files complaint vs hydropower project
BWI and the Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW) filed a joint complaint to the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on 6 July citing gross violation of workers’ rights of 3,000 workers at the IFC-supported Karot Hydropower Project in Pakistan.
PFBWW, which has a registered site-level union at the hydropower project, said that the worksite is undermining ILO Core Labour Standards. It said that the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are threatened. In particular, their complaint listed specific violations of IFC’s own performance standards (2 and 4) on workers’ organizations, health and safety, working conditions and terms of employment, grievance mechanisms, retrenchment, and concerns related to the use of security forces. The union also pointed to cases of union busting, illegal dismissals and underpayment of wages and benefits. It also raised its serious concerns over the health and safety of workers which it said has worsened due to COVID-19.
PFBWW General Secretary Aslam Adil expressed optimism with the complaint it filed before the
IFC. “We have been actively organising mega-infrastructure projects in Pakistan and consistently raising and addressing workers’ issues by engaging the management, strengthening our site-level union, dialogues and judicial interventions. With this complaint, we sincerely hope that workers’ and trade union rights will be fully recognised and respected at the Karot Hydropower Project,” Adil said.
The Karot Hydro Power project is constructing a 720 MW run-of-the-river hydro-power plant, including a 95.5 m high dam and a 27 km long reservoir on the Jhelum River. Karot is owned mainly by the China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Limited (CSAIL), which was established by the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC). At the time of the lease’s signing, Karot Hydro was IFC’s largest hydroelectric power project and represented its first major collaboration with the China Export Import Bank, China Development Bank, and Silk Road Fund. The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.