Pakistani union wins COVID-19 wages for workers in WB-funded project

BWI’s trade union affiliate in Pakistan won additional wages for workers employed at the World Bank-funded Tarbela Dam project in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

According to the Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW), on 15 November, the Pakistani government, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the Chinese contractor to the project, Power Construction Corporation of China Limited (PCCCL) formally awarded 514 workers additional COVID-19 wages amounting to a total of PKR 44,337,779 (USD 264,268). 

The additional wages compensate the Tarbela Dam workers who worked during last year’s hard lockdown covering 68 days.

PFBWW said that with the lockdown period declared as public holidays in Pakistan, it lobbied and persuaded the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to provide supplemental wages to workers who continued to work even during the pandemic.

Building on the provincial government’s commitment, PFBWW immediately initiated dialogues with WAPDA and PCCCL. After several rounds of meetings to identify rightful claimants and compute the additional wages, on 1 September, an agreement was reached. All parties agreed to start recompensing workers on 15 November. 

PFBWW General Secretary Aslam Adil thanked all the stakeholders, especially the union office-bearers for securing what he described as a “major victory for workers.” 

“This is a well-deserved victory for the Tarbela Dam workers who worked tirelessly without any break amidst a pandemic. I laud my union for continuously pushing the envelope and securing this important win, and everyone who supported the cause of workers and trade unions,” Adil said.