Neelum-Jhelum project employees warn of ‘lockdown’

Published September 3, 2019
Locally recruited employees of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) Company have called upon Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman to resolve the issue of their ‘absorption’ or else they would go on a ‘lockdown strike’ from Sept 10. — Kohi Marri/File
Locally recruited employees of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) Company have called upon Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman to resolve the issue of their ‘absorption’ or else they would go on a ‘lockdown strike’ from Sept 10. — Kohi Marri/File

MUZAFFARABAD: Locally recruited employees of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project (NJHP) Company have called upon Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman to resolve the issue of their ‘absorption’ or else they would go on a ‘lockdown strike’ from Sept 10.

According to Sheikh Altaf, president NJHPC Labour Union (CBA), his union had long been demanding absorption of some 220 employees (both locals and non-locals) in Wapda, which had recruited them from time to time for the 969-megawatt hydropower project on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad through the prevalent selection process, but to no avail.

He recalled that the union had called off its previous lockdown strike after Wapda chairman retired Lt-Gen Muzammil Hussain had publically announced during inauguration of the NJHP powerhouse in March 2018 that its demand would be met and no hired employee would be deprived of job.

He claimed that some spadework was done following the announcement, but the NJHPC management adopted “delaying tactics and resultantly no tangible outcome could be realised to this day”.

Union asks Wapda chairman to decide their absorption case by 10th

Instead of safeguarding the future of the already recruited employees, the NJHPC management had been manipulating to fill the vacancies in the project through transfers/inductions of the employees of their choice from Wapda and other projects, which had rendered the existing human resource insecure, he maintained.

He claimed that in Wapda an employee with a service of three years would become permanent, but the employees in NJHP were uncertain about their jobs even after more than 10 years in service.

He cited the case of a deceased daily wager Mohammad Naseer, who was fired after seven years of service as a waiter, without payment of any compensation or pecuniary benefits, due to non settlement of the employees’ issue.

The deceased was the sole bread winner of his family, which was in tatters after his death, he said.

He told that the union had served notice for its lockdown programme on July 17 this year but neither Wapda nor NJHPC management had approached them to avert the strike in return for assurance of peaceful resolution of the issue.

“Since, very sensitive developments are taking place in India occupied Kashmir and Indian aggressive designs are aimed at compromising the integrity of our motherland, we have been avoiding any activity that can provide the hostile Indian media an opportunity to exploit improper engagement of a federal institution [Wapda] with the Kashmiris,” he said.

“But our gestures are being taken for granted,” he added.

Mr Altaf urged Lt-Gen Hussain to honour the legitimate demand of absorbing all the NJHPC employees in the authority “as per his own assurance and commitment” to secure the future of the NJHPC employees and avoid unrest in the sensitive region.

According to Mr Altaf, the notice was sent to Wapda chairman by post, with its copies to the prime ministers of Pakistan and AJK, COAS, AJK chief secretary and 13-Div Commander.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2019

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