PTCL strike adds to customers’ problems
By By Atif Nadeem
PTCL workers’ strike has created immense problems for consumers as the organisation was already facing shortage of staff after a large number of workers left the organization under the Volunteer Separation Scheme (VSS).
Official PTCL sources told The News that the organization was facing management problems after 32,000 workers opted for VSS and left the organisation. This increased work-load on remaining 27,000 regular and contract workers, they said.
Resultantly, the PTCL administration expanded area network of linemen from one to four cabinets which badly affected their performances.
Linemen supervised 600 to 800 land-line numbers being operated from one cabinet before termination of services of staff under VSS but now they had to deal with 5,000 to 6,000 numbers. They were not being provided transport and other facilities to boost their efficiency in given circumstances.
The number of complaints had also increased in all 35 exchanges of the provincial metropolis and the estimated number of complaints had increased from 30 to 40 percent in every exchange.
Linemen have to work from 7am to 8pm and expansion in their network areas was causing considerable delay in complaint handling, the sources said.
The sources also said that the administration had relaxed the complaint handling time keeping in mind the increased work-load on linemen. Consumers who had applied for new connections were frustrated over the delay. A personal assistant of a federal minister had been calling the PTCL for installation of a new land-line number in GOR-1 for many days, the sources said.
Problems of consumers and complaints were mounting as rainy season had set in. Situation was deplorable in low-lying areas where there were poor arrangements to drain rainwater, they said. Consumers in such areas were facing serious problems as complaints about distortion, network error, underground cables damage, earthing and lines break-up problems were on the rise and the administration was facing difficulty in clearing the backlog. The sources said that in all exchanges of the provincial metropolis, at least 40 percent consumers were facing problems with their land-line numbers.
Talking to The News, Pakistan Telecom Workers Eithad (PTWE) representatives said that the administration had been deliberately devising strategies so that PTCL financial losses could become a justification for its privatisation at a later stage. They said consumers were more likely to switch to other telecommunication facilities if they were forced to get poor services. They said workload on linemen had increased due to expansion of areas of network under their supervision. They said that shortage of staff was the main reason for this crisis and number of consumers had also diminished due to ill-advised policies of the administration.
PTCL General Manager Operations Muhammad Rashid told The News that shortage of staff was a problem which was successfully handled by the administration through effective management. He said the administration had been trying to provide good services to its consumers. He, however, admitted that the shortage of staff had caused numerous problems for PTCL administration.