LAHORE – Hundreds of workers, led by Wapda Hydro-Electric Central Labour Union and Lahore Electric Supply Company Engineers Association leaders, took out a rally from Lahore Press Club to Wapda House here on Thursday. Later they also staged a sit-in on The Mall against the proposed privatisation of the utility.

Protests demonstrations against the privatization of electricity distribution companies were also held in all major cities of the country. The protesting workers in the city warned the government to take back the ‘decision of privatisation of public utility’ otherwise they would disconnect the electricity of all the VIP feeders across the country. They claimed the government was to privatise the DISCOs on the directions of the international lending agencies – the IMF and World Bank. They, however, pledged that they would not let it happen. Labour leader Khurisheed Ahmed, addressing the workers, said the government had dissolved the Pakistan Electric Power Company on the direction of the IMF and now it was going to privatise the power distribution companies. “If it happened, no-one could stop the storm of inflation in the country,” he claimed.Khurisheed said that thousands of the Wapda employees across the country would resist the government’s privatisation process. They also protested against the appointment of private sector chief executives with heavy remunerations, surging power tariffs on account of Rental Power Houses and the prevalence of anti-labour legislation curbing fundamental rights of workers and skyrocketing price-hikes and surging rates of unemployment. They condemned the government’s energy policies and rejected the appointment of private sector chief executives.

In other cities, more than 130,000 workers observed the ‘Protest Day.’ Protests were held in Hyderabad, Quetta, Sukkur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Sahiwal, Okara, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Jhang, Attock, Mardan, Swat, Abbottabad, Jhelum, Gujrat, Sialkot and Peshawar. The protesters also protested against abduction of electricity employees and their murders in Harnai (Balochistan) by the terrorists.