A supervisor at the K-Electric tested positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to the Karachi Expo Centre’s quarantine center.
The staffer, who worked for the power distributor’s third-party contractor, was part of a maintenance unit in the Defense locality of Karachi.
A team of health and security officials who had raided the KE’s IBC in the region took him into custody.
Three other team members, who were part of the same maintenance unit, were also taken for testing. After having tested negative they were released.
The case has raised questions about the health of hundreds of maintenance teams working without any protective gear in Karachi, at a time when the number of cases of coronavirus in the city is rising.
The third-party vendor program, implemented by its current owner Abraaj Group after KE’s acquisition, has previously been criticized due to poor working conditions, especially the lack of protective equipment for maintenance workers coping with high-voltage currents without any health insurance.
The seriousness of the situation can be understood from the demand on the power distributor to sustain the supply of people confined to their homes due to the pandemic in residential areas.
“We have been struggling to get the rights for our workforce for the last decade,” said Muhammad Akhlaque, a representative of the KE labour union.
The power distribution company used the third party vendor program because it didn’t want to offer their workers rights, he said.
“It was the same reason that the current management retrenched thousands of technical and maintenance staff 10 years ago,” Akhlaque said.
He demanded immediate “termination of the third-party system to ensure labour rights”.
The KE has confirmed than an employee affiliated with a third party contractor had tested positive for the virus.
KE spokesperson Noor Afshan said that all assistance was extended to the staffer and his relatives.
“KE has also arranged testing for all who interacted with the individual concerned,” she said.
The spokesperson said all those who worked with the infected employee were isolated and their premises were disinfected.