SWABI  - Muqaddam Khan  - District police have arrested 35 workers of a multinational tobacco purchasing company under 3 MPO (Maintain Public Order) on Wednesday.

The district administration feared that workers have threatened to commit self-immolation if management of the company fails to restore their services.

Sources in police told the correspondent that the arrested workers have been immediately shifted to Dera Ismail Khan judicial lockup.

The central President of Mehnat Kash Union (MKU) Ibrarullah has also been arrested. The rivalry erupted between Philip Morris International (PMI) Pakistan and MKU when 141 employees on November 21 reached the company and they saw the notices of their termination and letters of the dismissal have been dispatched to them by post.

The MKU leaders recalled that the workers got the letters on November 23 and 24th and soon after that they launched their protest and kept the main gate closed while demanding the reinstatement of the workers. Ibrarullah and other leaders of MKU led them.

It has been learnt that during the last 45-day talks and protest, the negotiations held at various levels failed to produce any tangible result. Minister for Labour and Mineral Development, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, District Nazim Ameer Rehman, Deputy Commissioner Matiullah Khan, District Police Officer Javid Iqbal and various other leaders had arranged talks between the workers and management of the company but they failed to strike a deal each time.

"The company was not ready to reinstate them and the workers plainly rejected the package offered by the company. The workers said that nothing short of their service was acceptable to them. The management said that the firing of the workers was part of their retrenchment policy," said an official who took part in negotiations. It has been learnt that a meeting of leaders of the workers and officials of the company held at DC office on Tuesday. In course of negotiations, the situation reached to such boiling point that the workers had threatened that if they were not reinstated they would commit self-immolation in front of the main gate of company as a protest.

"It was this fear which forced the district administration to opt for 3 MPO and the police acted for its implementation to arrest the workers," said an official. When contacted DPO Javid Iqbal told this correspondent that the stalemate did not end between the company workers and there was fear that some of the workers might move for self-immolation. "DC Matiulah has imposed 3MPO and the police arrested the workers. We have sent them to a judicial lockup," he said. Immediately after the arresting of workers MKU Chairman Wisal Khan, General Secretary Nihar Ali, Vice-President Iftikhar Ali and other leaders held a detailed meeting and vowed to continue their peaceful protest at any cost.

They rejected the allegation of self-immolation, saying it was a pretext used by district administration and the company to arrest the workers.

However, they said that it was true that nothing short of reinstatement was acceptable to them.