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Pharmatec Pakistan unlawfully fires workers

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26 April, 2024Contrary to a court order, 22 union members of the Pakistan Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers Union (PCEM), affiliated to IndustriALL, have been fired by their employer, Pharmatec Pakistan.

In 2019, a group of 29 workers approached the National Industrial Relation Commission (NIRC) regarding the company’s unfair labour practices. This included daily wage workers denied benefits given to permanent workers, like annual increment, bonus, medical facilities, leave benefits and group insurance. The workers made a request to the court that while the case was being heard, company management must refrain from terminating, dismissing, transferring or withholding their salaries, which was granted by the court.

The same year, the workers also filed a grievance petition at the NIRC seeking permanent worker status after company management had failed to address the issue. In the petition, workers argued that as per the country’s law, it’s mandatory for the company management to issue written appointment letters to workers showing terms and conditions of employment.

On 18 April 2024, the NIRC ruled on the two petitions, which were merged, directing that the case be transferred to the labour court. While the matter is still sub-judice, the management terminated the workers the next day. 

Imran Ali, PCEM general secretary, says:

“Pharmatec's decision to terminate our members is against the court order that only transferred the case to the labour court, where it remains in the same status as it did at the NIRC. We are protesting against the company’s unlawful decision and the union will continue to fight the legal battle until our members get justice.”

Ashutosh Bhattacharya, IndustriALL’s south Asia regional secretary, says:

“IndustriALL strongly condemns Pharmatec’s unlawful termination of workers. We stand in solidarity with our affiliate PCEM, who continues the fight to safeguard workers’ rights.”