By Iram Salim
Islamabad (PakDestiny) Almost 70 staff members of BBC Urdu Service in Pakistan have no clue of their provident fund for the last 5 years as the BBC management refuses to provide them any details despite repeated requests by some of the staff, says an open letter written by the BBC Urdu.com employees.
“BBC Pakistan constituted a trust in 2012 for the management of the Employees’ Provident Fund with six trustees, five trustees were appointed by the management and one trustee was appointed by the employees.
The trustees appointed by BBC Pakistan were Aamer Ahmed Khan (Urdu Editor),Haroon Rasheed ( Editor Pakistan),Stephen Tough ( Business manager Asia Pacific), Afshan Nayab Joseph ( Director BBC Pakistan, and Raza Hamadani ( BBC Urdu Producer).”
According to Pakistani laws, it says information about the provident fund must be provided to the employees within 15 days of the constitution of a trust, but it never happened.
BBC Urdu management has also been avoiding to hold meeting of a trust despite repeated requests by a trustee appointed by the employees.
Instead of holding meeting of a trust, BBC Urdu management sacked a trustee appointed by employees in June 2013. The fund was established in August 2009 when BBC Pakistan came into being.
The employees have been raising questions over its status from time to time, but were never satisfactorily answered, including in a meeting in 2012 in which a senior HR official, Heba Youssef, was also present.
Even HR official Heba Youssef suppressed this issue.
Trust sans employees’ representation, appointment of Urdu Editor’s crony as one of the trustees, BBC Urdu management’s failure to hold meeting of a trust, denying information about the status of provident fund and silence on the part of HR department have raised many questions.
There are questions over where is the provident fund? Where is it invested? What is its profit? What profit do they pay to employees? Do they get more profit and pay less to employees?
“Are the managers investing it in their own clandestine side-businesses? There are serious doubts, because those who raised the issue have been ridiculed or snubbed, or even terminated from service. This is one of the many scandals being suppressed by the BBC Urdu managers a swell as the HR department in London. Why are they being cagey, secretive? What are their motives? It is the employees’ money, so why aren’t they told about its status and location?”
The letter further says since BBC HR London and some senior managers are suppressing the issue, it is imperative that the UK parliament step in and investigate the issue. There are serious concerns that the funds may be misappropriated or invested in personal businesses. After repeated snubbing, BBC Urdu Service employees now hesitate to raise the issue to avoid the wrath of senior management. They fear they may lose their jobs if they did.
“BBC Urdu Service is being run as a family enterprise; it has been violating all BBC policies and Pakistani laws with impunity. Ironically, the HR has been a partner in this, abetting and encouraging the BBC Urdu managers to violate BBC policies as well as Pakistani laws. BBC Pakistan is a subsidiary of BBC World Service and it was established for smooth operations, but unfortunately BBC Urdu management in connivance with Human resource department London are engaged in ruthless exploitation of the BBC employees in Pakistan.”
The BBC, which is a publically funded organization, has virtually abandoned employees in Pakistan and they have been left to the mercy of BBC Urdu managers who are openly involved in criminal behavior and corrupt practices in Pakistan with impunity.
“BBC Urdu management should be held accountable for concealing the details about provident fund and BBC employees should be informed as to where their provident fund is located and invested. BBC’s top management should understand that exploitation of workers is damaging one of the best Public Service organisations and its credibility and repute is on the line.”
BBU Urdu Service is welcome to send Pak Destiny its response to the open letter of its employees. It will publish it. Pak Destiny