Strike threat results in settlement at Pakistan hydro project

15 November 2018 13:19

VCGGC workers ready to strike when the company accepted their demands .

The threat of a strike action at the 870MW Suki Kinari hydro project in Northern Pakistan has compelled China Gezhouba Group to accept key workers’ demands, according to the Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers’ (PFBWW).

In July 2018, workers formed the PFBWW-affiliated Shaheen Union and submitted a charter of demands to the local management. With no response from the company, the union called a strike that was scheduled for 3 November.  However, before the strike, the local management agreed to the union’s charter.

“The BWI applauds the commitment of workers at Suki Kinari to democratic collective action and will be closely observing the implementation of this settlement,” said BWI general secretary Ambet Yuson.  He continued, “In Pakistan, PFBWW’s sites unions are successfully organizing and pushing companies, particularly Chinese contractors to negotiate and agree with union demands for trade union recognition, safety and health and improved working conditions.”

When the union was initially formed at Suki Kinari, some workers stated they were being paid below the minimum wage, while other workers were terminated without justification. The demands issued to the company included compliance with labour law regarding appointment letters, overtime, holiday pay, social security and pension payment, compliance with termination law, and salary increases working towards the industry standard established at nearby projects. 

Soon after attending an OHS training workshop organised by the union, one union official was apprehended by local police. Negotiations with the police led to his release and a new meeting with company management.  At this meeting, it was agreed that the union would submit a new charter of demands. 

“We are glad to see that CGGC have accepted a majority of our demands, and accordingly we are satisfied that we could call off the strike. Construction workers are the foundation of Pakistan’s current surge of industrial development, and they deserve to live and work in dignity  with respect,” said PFBWW General Secretary Aslam Adil. 

CGGC has previously worked in Pakistan on the Neelum Jhelum hydro project which concluded construction at the beginning of this year. In 2017 the BWI filed an ILO complaint against the Government of Pakistan, for its failure to bring into effect an agreement that was negotiated and signed by Neelum-Jhelum in October 2011, as well as allegations of military intervention and the dismissal of trade union activists.