FAISALABAD: Unscheduled power suspension has irked several powerloom workers, including Abdul Hameed, 55, who left his weaving unit in Faizabad on Sunday night cursing Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) officials.

Laying a cloth on the floor, Hameed sat down on it when Nasir Alam, a worker from a neighbouring factory, joined him. Hameed said the government had resolved to provide smooth power supply to the industry even in Ramazan that rekindled hopes among workers. However, all statements proved hallow slogans only and weaving units were facing hours-long outages.

Talking to Dawn, Hameed said: “We were told that units will face power outages during Sehr and Iftar, which was a good strategy. However, the government failed to honour its words as the industry was facing unscheduled loadshedding.”

He questioned how workers would earn money to provide for their families for Eid.

Supporting Hameed, Alam said workers had been facing financial problems ahead of Eid for last five to six years. Due to this, thousands of workers could not celebrate Eid happily with their families. He also said Fesco had announced seven-hour power suspension to the industry daily, but the situation was totally different. Currently, he claimed they were facing 10 to 12 hours of unscheduled outages daily that is creating a plethora of problems for workers as well as factory owners.

He said people at the helm of affairs would be forced to improve the situation when workers would come out on the roads and protest. He said on Jan 1, 2009, Faisalabad witnessed three-day violent protests by workers when they had burnt three Fesco offices, torched a bakery and a vehicle on Canal Road. After such protests, he claimed, power supply to the industry had been improved.

Textile mills owners were also unhappy with unscheduled power suspension. Mushtaq Ahmed, a miller, said a couple of days ago the government had tried to please industrialists by claiming the industry would get 24-hour power supply. He said the issue had made headlines with huge advertisements by the government. But the announcement proved to be a drama as Fesco suspended power supply to various units for hours in the name of maintenance, he claimed.

He said when Fesco was contacted to know the reason behind sudden outages in the name of maintenance its officials said the Ministry of Water and Power had decided to improve the system.

“The record maintained by Fesco for maintenance is evident to prove my claim,” he added.

Council of Loom Owners Chairman Waheed Khaliq claimed Fesco officials had devised a power outages strategy without taking the stakeholders into confidence. He further claimed that because of loadshedding, theft had increased manifold in industrial areas frightening both the workers and millers.

He said Fesco’s strategy had led to a visible decline in production at industrial units pushing workers and factory owners into an awkward situation. Hours-long unscheduled power outages will hit hard the monthly budget of thousands of powerloom workers, Khaliq added.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2015

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