Raza Gillani, a former employee of the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, shared his experience with the company via twitter.

“Two days ago, I was fired from the Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP). I had been working for their Oral History Project, as an Assistant Manager and a researcher, for almost a year. 

He also shares that another 12 colleagues were let go from the National History Museum, which is also managed by CAP. “We were fired in violation of the rights our signed contracts ensure: no written termination, no one month notice, and no pay for the work we have already done this month!” shares Raza.

“The Government of Sindh has already passed a law which bars any organisation to fire its employees during the lockdown, period. CAP’s headquarters are based in Karachi.”

Raza states that him and other employees were informed that they organisation has run out of funding. “The millions this organisation has so far managed to collect have somehow disappeared. They have already received the money for the projects we are working on,” add Raza.

He shares via his tweets that the organisation has received money for the wages of the former employees from different grants. He alleges, “All that money is, one would imagine, being funnelled to the top.”

“Amidst a global pandemic, employees who were sole breadwinners of their families were fired, who live payday to payday and survive on the basis of their monthly income. Robbed out of a job, people now have no way to feed their families and, worse still, apply for a new job because of the lockdown.”

Raza shares that the organisation didn’t explicitly tell them that they were being fired, “We were told over a phone call that we won’t paid from next week and that we should ‘look into new opportunities.’ And shamefully enough, that we will be ‘welcome to apply again’ once the closure of offices is over.”

Other than laying off of employees, Raza states that CAP was paying its skilled workers a salary of PKR 15,000 to PKR 20,000 a month, which is considerably low for “than what an organisation of such esteemed reputation should be paying.”

“This is an organization that projects a very humanitarian, liberal sort of a public image so that it can attract donors and funding from across the world (grants worth millions of dollars every year!). The board of directors includes, among others, a clothing brand owner, who allegedly doesn’t pay his workers a liveable wage, an Oscar winner who was sued for withholding compensation for the acid attack victim whose story had won her the Oscar, and a photographer who… is basically just a photographer,” states Raza.

“Why is it that those who are already the most underpaid are considered a liability in times of a crisis?” asks Raza.

“That being said, I also wish to recognise that the people I worked with at the CAP, my colleagues and my superiors, were a few of the kindest souls I have met in life. My critique of this termination is directed at those who make the decisions regarding the money. To those who win laurels across the globe for doing a valuable service to humanity, while, at the same time, their pockets keep getting fuller from money robbed off of someone’s else’s labor.”

Half an hour after Raza posted this, he received a call from HR; the company unanimously decided that all employees who were let go will now be given their notice periods and a month’s salary.

On Monday, CAP uploaded its own statement, which does not directly answer Raza’s claims, but focuses more on the “unprecedented times” the NGO is going through.

“For the last several months, CAP has been struggling to museum operations running and paying employee salaries because we have not received 6 month’s worth of payments owed to our organisation,” reads the statement by CAP.

“Now that the museum is closed for an indefinite period of time due to the government lockdown for COVID-19 pandemic, as a small non-government organisation we are finding it difficult to sustain a large workforce and have had to make some difficult decisions to let some members of our organisation go whilst also having to revisit current employees’ remuneration.”

As a closing note, the statement by CAP, says the fired employees will be the first ones they will contact if and when the global and local economy stabilises and CAP is able to recover funds owed to the organisation.


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