Pakistan: 170 trade unionists reject Pakistan Telecom privatisation

The rallies and daily two hour strikes by Pakistan Telecom workers against privatisation continues across the country.

This activity has been organised by a nine-union strong trade union action committee. The Trade Union Rights Campaign – Pakistan (TURC-P), including members of the Socialist Movement (CWI in Pakistan), has played a leading role on this committee and in the struggle. Many meetings have been organised by the TURC-P to build up solidarity support for the strike movement.

“The Trade Union Rights Campaign – Pakistan continue to fight to defend workers’ rights. We will continue our fight against privatization, the Industrial Relations Ordinance 2002 [which viciously attacked employment and trade union rights] and other anti-worker policies. We are ready to sacrifice to defeat privatisation. Pakistan Telecommunications Limited (PTCL) has been built by the blood and sweat of its workers, not by the state bureaucrats and generals and they have no right to decide the fate of 60 000 workers.” These were comments made by speakers at a seminar organised by Trade Union Rights Campaign – Pakistan (TURC-P) in Islamabad on 23 May.

Representatives of twelve trade unions participated in the seminar to show their solidarity with striking telecom workers. The seminar was chaired by Azam Janjuah, organiser of TURC-P Islamabad and Khalid Bhatti, National Organiser TURC-P was the main speaker. Eleven representatives of different unions spoke at the occasion. The main unions were, NIC employees association, Wapda Paigham union, Civil Secretariat Employees Coordination Council, Akhbar Ferosh Union, Newspaper Employees Union, and the Hawkers Union. The main leaders of the PTCL trade union action committee were also present in the seminar.

The seminar opened by Azad Qadri Organizing Secretary TURC-P who gave an introduction of TURC-P and its work. The other speakers were Mukhtar Ahmad, Muneer Abassi, Shaukat Satti, Aashique Hussain, Taufeeq Ahmad, Arshad Ali, Malik Saghir, Zahoor Awan and Tahir Abassi. The speakers condemned the anti-working class policies of the present military government.

They all appreciated the role played by the TURC-P in the strike and protest movement by telecom workers across Pakistan. Khalid Bhatti explained the nature of neo-liberal economic policies and their impact on the working class of Pakistan. He also called on the leadership of the trade union action committee to continue their fight unless the management accepts all the workers’ demands.

The following points were agreed unanimously by the meeting in the form of a resolution

  • Stop the privatization, downsizing and retrenchment.
  • Stop the massacre of 30 000 jobs.
  • No to imperialist globalisation, IMF, World Bank, and WTO.
  • Abolish IRO 2002, Labour policy 2002, Removal from service ordinance 2000-1, and all other anti-union laws.

We thank the Committee For A Workers International (CWI) for their support and solidarity in this struggle so far.

The mood in this seminar was very radical. The second and third layers of leadership in PTCL unions were very enthused with turn out at the seminar. They said that this attendance would help activists to mobilise many more workers for the public meeting which is planned for 25 May in Islamabad. This TURC-P seminar also received good coverage in the main national newspapers.

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May 2005