Victory in Pakistan: Union reinstates 200 dismissed workers

The Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW) has successfully reinstated 200 workers who were illegally fired from the World Bank-funded Tarbela Dam - Fifth Extension (T5). According to the union, a number of contractual workers were fired without cause and were not given severance pay in compliance with Pakistani labor standards. The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) is in charge of the T5 project, which is managed by the Power Construction Corporation of China Ltd (PCCL).

Workers, headed by the union, demonstrated against the illegal dismissals and demanded their immediate reinstatement. Workers and their families also petitioned the Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources and brought the issue to the Grievance Redress Committee (GRC). PFBWW also asked the contractor to prioritise hiring young workers from the project's immediate vicinity over recruiting from distant locations.

The GRC sessions were held from 18 May to 24 May, during which the Chinese contractor, PCCL, agreed to PFBWW's demands and committed that all dismissed workers will be re-employed. It was decided that all workers would continue to work in their previous positions, while the human resources department would simultaneously scrutinise and align workers' positions and jobs based on their work experience, either continuing in the same department where they were previously employed or assigning them to new positions.

PFBWW General Secretary Aslam Adil expressed "immense satisfaction" with their collaborative efforts, which resulted in the reinstatement of 200 contractual workers. "We have also successfully negotiated a wage increase for skilled and semi-skilled workers, as well as a PKR 625,000 compensation (USD 2,200) to the family of a worker who died while on the job." This is over and above the statutory compensation of PKR 300,000 (USD 1,050) provided by law. Since the compensation is retroactive, the families of the six workers who died at the commencement of the T5 project have received the monetary compensation," he explained.