Health workers’ strike action forced the POK (Pakistani Occupied Kashmir) government after a week of mass action, to concede to their demands regarding the implementation of pay agreements.
Although the government has agreed to implement the agreement, experience shows that ruling politicians of every shade tend not to honor agreements reached with workers. Thus, it is vital that the workers’ leadership continues to build pressure for the implementation of the agreement. The POK government was also forced to withdraw the so-called ’essential services’ law, which declared the strike illegal!
The workers’ indefinite ‘lock-out’ strike, which began on 14 February, had the support of other public sector workers’ organisations.
TURCK (Trade Union Rights Campaign Kashmir) members and supporters played a key role in organising solidarity for the striking health workers across POK, by uniting workers from other organisations, including education, PWD (Public Works Department) workers, sanitary, clerical and other workers, who came out in support of the strike.
Under the agreement reached between health workers and the government, an assurance was given that the agreed services structure for paramedical staff, supporting staff, staff nurses and allied specialties would be implemented within 10 working days.
A six-member committee, comprising of the Secretary of services, Secretary of health, Secretary of finance, Director General of health, President of the PSA (Paramedical Staff Association) and a patron of the PSA have been formed to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
Meanwhile, other demands, including regularisation of 369 contract workers, a rural area allowance, a risk allowance and health entitlements, amongst others would be implemented within six weeks, by the above committee.
This guarantee has been seen by workers as a first step and further actions will be needed to ensure the implementation of the whole agreement.
The health workers’ strike coincided with the mass strike action in IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir), by tens of thousand of workers for demands including the implementation of pay commission recommendations at parity with federal workers in India.
During the health workers’ strike, solidarity was extended to workers across the dividing LoC (Line of Control), to the workers struggling in IOK.
TURCK members and supporters will continue to organise in solidarity with the workers during the coming days and weeks to over see the implementation of the agreement reached by the health workers with the government of POK. While demands for basic democratic rights, formulation of labour law, labour courts and right to organise trade unions, TURCK would continue to struggle for such demands.