Utility Stores employees stage sit-in in Islamabad against likely closure, work contracts

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ISLAMABAD : Employees of the Utility Stores Corporation gathered in hundreds in the federal capital from across the country to protest against the likely closure of the stores and demand permanent contracts.

The agitated employees marched down from the corporation’s head office in Blue Area to D-Chowk, where they were stopped by the police forces from proceeding forward.

The employees of the Utility Stores Corporation, the country’s biggest state-run retail chain, urged the government to settle Rs27.6 billion worth of its subsidy claims pending for the last seven years, which is creating a financial crunch for the corporation, leading to its possible closure.

They also demanded that their contracts be made permanent and their wages and salaries be increased, and said the utility stores throughout the country will remain shut from today until their demands are accepted.

Refusing to be stopped by the police, the protesters threatened to march down on the Parliament House if their demands were not met.

Security has been deployed at and around D-Chowk to keep the situation under control.

Earlier in August, the government ordered the Utility Stores Corporation to halt all purchases until further notice, leaving as many as 14,000 employees in the lurch.

The Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan is a state-owned enterprise that operates chain stores all over the country which provide basic commodities to the general public at prices lower than the open market due to government subsidies.

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