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WWF accused of using the fund for industrial labour

26 November, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: The custodians of the Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) have been accused of using the fund, which is meant for industrial labour, for their own ‘welfare’. Since 2011, 306 WWF officials drew Rs226.3million as welfare allowance from the contributions of the industrial establishment and workers.

The fund is raised with two per cent contribution from the industrial establishment and five per cent is collected from workers, under the Companies Profit (Workers Participation) Act 1968.

WWF, using the contribution, provides financial grants to labourers in the shape of scholarships, stipends, marriage grants and financial assistance for deaths and educational and social matters. In May 2011, government officials working in WWF were allowed a special grant called the Welfare Service Allowance from the workers’ contribution.

Grade 20 officers were granted Rs50,000 welfare allowance per month, Grade 19: Rs40,000, Grade 18: Rs30,000, Grade 17: Rs15,000. WWF employees working in grades one to four were given Rs2,000 per month in welfare allowance.

According to an official estimate, since May 2011 Rs155.7million disbursed among 72 senior WWF officials of grades 17 to 20, Rs34 million went to 56 officials of grades 14 to 16 and Rs19 million to 58 officials of grades seven to 11. A meager Rs16 million was paid to all 120 low grade employees of grades one to four.

The welfare allowance is only available to those WWF officials working in Islamabad. WWF employees in other provincial capitals do not receive the allowance.

The current WWF governing body, led by Ministry of Overseas Financial Advisor Dr Alamdar Hussain, observed that the fund was meant for labourers and their families, and government officials working at WWF were not eligible to draw any amount in the name of ‘Welfare Allowance’.

The body subsequently recommended that the finance division discontinue the allowance, and asked the division to decide whether or not to recover the amount from officials. The body’s recommendations were challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) by 116 WWF officials.

The petition, which was filed through IHC Bar Association president Raja Aleem Khan Abbasi, contended that the allowance for WWF employees was approved because Islamabad is an expensive city.

According to the petition, it is a settled law that the relief, once given, cannot be withdrawn. It asked the court to declare the recommendations of the WWF governing body illegal and restore the allowance. IHC Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi, after hearing the petition, restored the allowance and suspended the body’s recommendations. The overseas ministry and the WWF governing body submitted their response to the petition before the court.

They stated that the allowance “was only allowed to the employees working in the head office (at Islamabad), which normally shows the manipulation to grab the workers money in lust to enhance their (WWF staff) salary with one stroke of pen @ Rs50,000 per month to BPS-20 with a very meager share left for low grade employees.”

The reply claimed that the allowance was reinstated without mandatory approval from the federal government and is not among the list of those allowances admissible to WWF employees.

It stated: “Under Section 4 of WWF Ordinance 1971, the contributions towards the WWF are made by the industrial establishments for the welfare of workers. The funds so contributed are meant for the welfare of the workers.”

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