KARACHI, Oct 2: Leaders of the National Trade Unions Federation (NTUF) on Wednesday accused Sindh Workers Welfare Board (SWWB) officials of being involved in the grabbing of over 4,000 residential units constructed and allotted to workers through a ballot.

NTUF president Mohammad Rafiq Baloch and deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor told a press conference at the Karachi Press Club that labourers working in various factories had submitted their applications with the board in 2007 for allotment of 4,008 flats and in the balloting held five years later, in February 2012, the names of lucky ones were announced.

In the same month, the successful applicants paid Rs30,000 to the board, which collected a total of Rs120 million, they said. However, they added, they could not get possession of their flats.

Some 3,000 flats have been constructed near the Northern Bypass and 1,008 in Gulshan-i-Maymar.

The leaders claimed that the flats in Ghushan-i-Maymar had been grabbed by certain elements, alleging that senior SWWB officials, who had political connections, were ‘directly involved’ in the matter.

“The illegal occupants have been using these flats and also electricity and gas without paying any cost for the past two years. No one dares to cut off the power and gas connections,” said Mr Baloch.

The possession of the 3,000 flats near the Northern Bypass had also not been given to their owners so far on one pretext or another, the NTUF leaders claimed.

They said the board was still under the control of the federal government “in violation of the constitution”.

They also claimed that the board, which had Rs80 billion meant for Sindh under its thumb out of which it had released grants to other three provinces but Sindh’s share had not been released as yet.

The leaders regretted that 70 per cent of the country’s industrial units were in Sindh yet the province had not been given its due share since 2009.

The board’s policies had been affecting hundreds of thousands of the workers in Sindh as the deserving ones could not get the dowry grant and the families of deceased workers posthumous benefits.

They demanded release of education funds for workers, registration of all workers with the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and provision of better social security to every worker.

They also demanded setting up of a judicial commission to investigate alleged corruption in the EOBI and the Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (Sessi).The labour leaders criticised the provincial government for according the least priority to labourers’ issues, which was evident from the fact that it had not yet appointed even a labour minister.

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