SWABI - The protest of workers, who were terminated from a tobacco multinational company, has entered fourth day, and the protesters have vowed that they would not allow the reopening of the company until their demands are met.
The workers terminated from Philip Morris International (PMI) gathering near the company gates were holding rods in their hands and were chanting slogans against the management. They declared that no one would be allowed to enter the company, as they were earning their livelihoods with dignity and honour but they were fired. They said they were peaceful people and they had no plan to turn violent, but they said they would make one thing clear that they would get jobs and the contractor system was not acceptable to them. They said that they have been working in the company for the last many years and the peak years of their life had passed here and now when the management leaving them high and dry they have no option except the protest. “I have been working in this company since 1990 as a seasonal worker. Usually we worked in the tobacco season and later on it was told by the management o wait for the next year,” said Mukamil Shah.Sabaz Ali, an aged worker said: “I have been working in the company for the last 40 years and till last few years it was known as Lakson Tobacco Company. Now it own by Philip Morris International. In this old age I would go where. There is no source of our livelihood. “Another aged worker, Malik Zada said: “I have joined the company on September 1, 1982. In all these years we worked as seasonal worker and after the Peshawar Court decision in our favour we got a ray of hope that our service would be regularised but the management of the company closed doors on us and started protest. “Salman Khan a leader of Awami Jamhoori Ittehad present on the occasion told this correspondent that the company is located at point can easily be reached from not only Swabi but also from Mardan and Charsadda. However, he warned that if the company was shifted from here they would never allow the purchase of single tobacco leaf for the FMI from the district. He said that bulk of tobacco produce in the district and the company would not get the quality flue-cured Virginia from here.
Observers here said that the situation was tense and the workers were in aggressive mood and there is dire need of the peaceful settlement. The management of the company, worker, district administration and provincial labour department should set across the table to resolve the issue of the job of the workers and let the company open to resume production.