Utility stores shut across Chitral as staff go on strike

CHITRAL: Like other parts of the country, utility stores staff across Chitral on Friday went on a shutterdown strike one day before start of Ramazan.

They have announced to continue the strike till acceptance of their demands, including regularization of their jobs and pay raise.

The decision to go on the strike was taken by the central leaders of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) employees union after their demands were rejected by the managing director of the organization in Islamabad on Thursday.

Early in the morning today, a large number of people were seen outside utility store outlets in Chitral to purchase essential items for Ramazan.

However, after waiting for hours they went back empty handed. They criticized both the government and the employees of the utility store corporation for adding to their problems when the country was under the coronavirus lockdown.

Most of the time the outlets remain without the stock of essential items but when they were replenished with needed items in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown and ahead of Ramazan the staff went on strike.

They said it was a duty of the government to ensure opening of the outlets by resolving the issues of the staff.

The utility stores staff were around 50 utility store outlets in both Lower and Upper Chitral during the tenure of the previous PML-N government but now the number has been reduced to 32.

At least 92 staffers consisting seven permanent employees and daily wagers are working in these stores.

The government recently hired some more labourers to work in the stores for one month, till the end of Ramazan.

The daily wage staffers are demanding regularization of their jobs while the regular employees want increase in their salaries.

The issue lingers for years and despite promising to meet their demands the management of the corporation is yet to resolve the issue.

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