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Steel mill layoffs draw sharp reaction from MQM-P, PSP

KARACHI: The federal government’s decision to terminate services of thousands of employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) has drawn strong criticism from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Pak Sarzameen Party. Both parties have demanded its immediate withdrawal.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet approved on Wednesday retrenchment of all the 9,350 PSM employees with a one-time severance cost of about Rs20 billion in the name of “human resource rationalisation plan”.

However, the MQM-P, which is a key coalition partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government, and PSP were not in agreement with the so-called human resource rationalisation plan as they wanted the government to revive the ailing PSM with the existing workforce instead of snatching livelihoods of thousands of workers.

In a statement, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui condemned the government’s decision and said that the present government had promised to protect jobs of PSM employees but instead of keeping its promise it was going to sack them in the name of an economic package.

He said the MQM-P had time and again demanded of the prime minister and Sindh governor that meaningful steps be taken to revive the PSM.

He demanded that the government withdraw its decision to terminate the services of over 9,000 employees and provide them complete job security.

On the other hand, PSP chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal has called the government plan “forced dismissal of 9,350 employees” in the name of so-called “golden handshake”.

Terming it “economic murder of thousands of employees and a clear enmity towards Karachi”, Mr Kamal said that the entire election campaign of the PTI was focused on strengthening state institutions, eliminating debts and reviving economy but now it appeared to be taking steps towards privatisation of these institutions.

“Before assuming office, Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised the PSM employees that as soon as he becomes premier, outstanding dues of all employees will be paid, but unfortunately the PM once again took a U-turn on his own promises,” he told a delegation of PSM workers who called on him at the PSP headquarters.

He demanded immediate payment of all legitimate dues of PSM employees and immediate reversal of the decision of dismissal of thousands of employees.

Meanwhile, disgruntled MQM leader and chief of his Organisational Restoration Committee Dr Farooq Sattar called upon PM Imran Khan and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to take back the decision and said the government should work for the revival of state-owned institutions.

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