Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) has sacked 4,544 employees, including divisional and assistant managers, as part of its “cost reduction exercise”, as confirmed by a PSM spokesperson on Friday.
The management confirmed that officials belonging to category 2,3, and 4 pay groups have been dismissed from their jobs, adding that dismissal letters have been sent to the sacked employees by post.
“Lecturers, non-teaching staff at schools and colleges, drivers, firemen, fire tender operators, health workers, security guards, gardeners, paramedical staff, cooks and office attendants are being ‘retrenched’,” the PSM spokesperson said. “The staff at the chief executive’s secretariat and professional degree holders are being retained.”
Meanwhile, PSM Stakeholders Group Covener Mamriz Khan lamented that the state has become indifferent to the employees of one of the largest public sectors of Pakistan.
“There are reports that the department head was called today so that employees can be dismissed,” he said, deploring that employees are forced to protest during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Backing the argument, Saeed Ghani, minister for labour in Sindh, also condemned the federal government’s decision to terminate the services of PSM employees, saying that his party will stand with the employees.
He demanded the government to withdraw its decision and announce an economic package to make the PSM functional.
Earlier this month, Industries & Production Minister Hammad Azhar had said that the government has decided to privatise PSM as it had “become a burden on the national exchequer”.
He said that PSM employees had not been working for the last many years and now they would get a financial package of around Rs2.3 million per employee as compensation.
“At one stage, the PSM had 30,000 employees out of which many employees had retired and now an estimated 9,000 employees were working for the mill. PSM was closed for the last five years and previous governments could not devise any plan for it,” he said.
The decision has been met with fierce criticism from PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who took to Twitter and termed the move as the work of a “heartless government”.