KARACHI: Pharmaceutical and packaged food manufacturers have been allowed to continue operations during the province-wide 15-day lockdown announced by the Sindh government, while all other industrial units were ordered shut, industry representatives told Dawn on Monday.

They said that manufacturers, in addition to pharmaceutical and food, are also complying with home department’s orders of not laying off workers and labourers during the shutdown despite zero industrial output.

Site Association of Industry President Suleman Chawala said factory owners of over 4,000 units are also working to ensure provision of food and other essentials to their 100,000-150,000 daily-wage workers, who are at the risk of losing their income in the wake of city-wide industry closures.

“We will not fire a single employee of any kind during the non-production days,” he added. Moreover, he said efforts are being taken to hand over salaries to employees before April 1.

Korangi Association of Trade and Industry President Sheikh Umer Rehan said he cannot quantify the number of daily-wage workers in this industrial area where he estimates one to 1.5 million people work in around 4,500 industrial units to earn livelihood for their families.

“We will neither cut salaries nor show exit doors to employees under current circumstances,” he said while adding that arrangements are being made to give food items to workers besides releasing their salaries in advance before April 1.

F.B. Area Association of Trade and Industry President Abdullah Abid said that “we cannot think of laying off any employee working in 2,000 units operating in this industrial estate.”

Many workers belonging to interior Sindh have already departed with advance March salaries last week, he said, adding that whereas many factories have handed over food items like flour, rice, pulses, tea and sugar to workers.

North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry (NKATI) President Naseem Akhtar said “we will keep our workers, staffers and labour intact with assurance of no cuts in salaries during these testing times.”

He said that “we are providing Rs10m [worth of] food items to 24,000 poor registered under NKATI Welfare Clinic.” Arrangements are also being made to provide essential items to daily-wage workers for the next 15 days.

Association of Pakistan Motorcycle Assemblers Mohammad Sabir Sheikh said Chinese assemblers will not roll out two- and three-wheelers due to closure of offices and markets. A number of consumers are likely to face delays in delivery of locally-produced cars and vehicles as manufacturers have also decided to shut down production and offices.

The Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited closed its operations from Mar 24 to April 6, in Sindh. In addition, Yamaha Motor Pakistan would also remain closed from Mar 24 to April 7.

The Indus Motor Company, which recently launched Toyota Yaris, would keep its offices and plant closed as per Sindh government order. Furthermore, the plants and offices of Hinopak Motors Limited would also remain closed till April 7.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2020