Mobile phone industry in Pakistan is flourishing, and a shift towards smartphones from feature phones is being experienced very clearly. Already burdened with taxes and duties, the industry hasn’t been able to set usual business norms for itself in the past ten years. This is the very reason that a mobile phone assembly unit in Pakistan recently sacked its entire workforce in the first week of May this year, a month which starts with a day that marks solidarity with labor all over the world.
Certainly, there couldn’t have been a more painful news for the workforce of nearly 200 people who resorted to street agitation when no government organization listened to them against this act of cruelty.
GFive a mobile phone brand has its assembly unit in Mirpur that was initiated after a Lahore-based unit could not work according to the plans of the company. As a part of their usual practice, the mobile phone plant that only assembles lower end feature phones, takes a few months break from work every year and give half month salary to its workforce during this period.
However, this year, the workers did not even get the April salary, let alone the half month compensation for two months. And worst was the news for them when they were directed to leave their jobs without any prior notice, confirmed by dozens of agitating workers who were filmed by a local news site Adalat.
Chanting slogans “Saadda Haq Aithay Rakh,” (Give Us Our Right), these skilled workers of Pakistan’s gathered on the roads to demand their rights.
As per detail, the four-year contract with worker was thrown into the trash after just a one a half year. The contract made it binding to notify the workforce two months before their termination, however, this sudden act has not only deprived them of their jobs, but also they have been threatened by the management that their pending salary of April wouldn’t’ be paid if workers decided to take the help of law.
“This is not the first time. It has happened in the past and no one from the labor department helped us as the owner keep everyone happy in the district management”, told a protester.
“We recently assembled 232,000 mobile phones for which we are not being paid. We are paid Rs. 13,000 a month, however, government’s standard remuneration for labor is Rs. 14,000 a month”, another sacked worker stated.
GFive top management is currently out of the country, and local administration of Mirpur has assured to mediate between them and the management.
MORE tried to reach the owner of the GFive factory for a feedback who indicated that a mutual decision might reach next week. “I am coming back to Pakistan next week, and then we will finalize with them face to face.”
“Next week there will be a mutual decision by Friday,” Abdul Rehman, Head of GFive stated.
It is not clear yet, what may have caused the management to act in this way, nor Mr. Rahman hinted anything; however, this does not give a very healthy message to other potential investors whom government is following, if it is doing in real, for building a facility in the country.
Pakistan has long been deprived of transfer of technology since the start of mobile phone revolution in the country. The incumbent government through the vibrant State of Minister of IT, Anusha Rahman has many a time emphasized on starting mobile phone manufacturing units in the country. A half-hearted endeavor was also made by Haier Pakistan in 2016, but as of yet, not a single cell phone has been assembled locally. It is merit mentioning here that Haier mobile phone brand is in hot waters ever since it announced the opening of an assembly unit for cell phones.
Federal and provincial governments will need to look into the matter very seriously as this wouldn’t be sending any good message to foreign players. Similar to what it does with the cellular operator, the government must regulate the handset industry of Pakistan so that genuine players could come forward and take the initiative for building an actual mobile phone manufacturing plant.