24 hours power shutdown: Industrialists threaten to layoff labor

  • April 12, 2010
Steel industrialists in an urgently held meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) threatened to layoff all labor from tomorrow if electricity was not resorted to steel furnaces urgently. They said that they were unable to pay the labor when their industrial units were forced to close down due to 24 hours power shutdown.
Chairing the meeting, Zahid Maqbool, President, ICCI said that 150 steel furnaces have already closed down due to round-the-clock power loadshedding and warned that as many as 500,000 laborers will become jobless if electricity was not restored to steel furnaces.
He stressed upon the government to provide electricity to steel industry for at least 12 hours a day or on alternate days to avoid closure of more industries. He slammed the government for targeting the industries of only Islamabad and Punjab for loadshedding while exempting industries of other provinces from any load management, which was highly discriminatory approach.
Zahid Maqbool said many investors from Turkey, Germany and China have shown interest to invest in Pakistan but such measures of the PEPCO will send a negative signal to them. He said construction industry, one of the largest industries of Pakistan, was largely depended on steel industry and closure of steel units would badly hit construction industry making millions of people jobless as almost 40 other industries were directly or indirectly linked with construction industry.
He said this step will also thwart government’s plan of constructing 32 new dams as no dam could be made without steel bars. He advised Raja Pervez Ashraf, Federal Minister for Power to consult with ICCI and work out a win-win situation for government and  the industrialists.
Karim Aziz Malik, Vice President ICCI said that last year keeping in view power constraints, industrialists had voluntarily agreed for 12 hours daily loadshedding to steel furnaces. But this time, government unilaterally decided to shutdown power to steel furnaces for 24 hours, which was totally unacceptable.
He said this measure will cause the closure of 370 re-rolling steel mills in Punjab, 72 steel manufacturing units in Lahore, 57 in Gujranwala and 10 in Islamabad  rendering thousands of workers jobless apart from causing huge financial losses to the investors. He said that already prices of steel bars have increased by Rs.5000-Rs.6000 per ton as this commodity was selling @ Rs.70,000-Rs.72000 per ton in the market and warned that it will soon reach Rs.80,000 per ton if power crisis of steel industry was not resolved.
Javed Iqbal, Chairman, ICCI Sub-Committee on Energy said that PEPCO was only victimizing poor people as no loadshedding was done in posh areas and only localities of poor people were subjected to massive loadshedding. He warned that if power to steel furnaces was not restored by tomorrow, all labor employed in steel furnaces will be laid off and government will be responsible for its consequences.