Pakistan: Solidarity protest with Telecommunications workers in Lahore

Ten unions announce support for Telecommunications strike

The Trade Union Rights Campaign-Pakistan organised a protest demonstration against the privatisation of Pakistani Telecommunications Company Limited and also showed their solidarity with striking Telecom workers. The demonstration was organized in front of the Lahore Press Club. The Socialist Movement Pakistan also fully supported this demonstration.

More than 60 trade union leaders participated in this action.

The TURC-P protest was a great success considering that it was called at twelve hours notice and it was arranged for a Sunday which is traditionally the only full day off during the week in Pakistan. TURC-P members and Telecom Trade Union leaders had asked many striking telecom workers who were very keen to attend not to come to the protest for fear of sweeping arrests by the police and paramilitary Rangers.

Speakers condemned the privatisation of PTCL and police raids at the homes of telecom workers which tookplae the day before, on Saturday. Leaders of the Railway workers union, Muttahida Labour Federation (MLF), WASA union, Pak PWD Labour union, Heavy Mechanical Engineering Workers Union, All Pakistan Teachers Federation, Pensioners Association, RMS Employees union (postal workers), All Pakistan Clerics Association, Informal Sector Workers organization, and Labour Rights Committee announced their support for the telecom workers strike.

Faizl-e-Wahid, National Secretary General Railway Workers Union Workshops, Hanif Ramay General Secretary Muthida Labour Federation Punjab (the second largest Trade Union Federation in Pakistan), Altaf Baluch President Muthida Labour Federation Punjab, Mukhtar Kashfi, Amin Bhatti General Secretary Peoples Labour Bureau Punjab, Zafar Malik, Rukhsana Manzoor TURC-P, Fazal Abass Shah TURC-P, Khalid Bhatti TURC-P and Socialist Movement Pakistan, spoke at the protest.

The demonstrators chanted the slogans against PTCL privatisation and anti-worker policies of the government. A large number of journalists came to cover the demonstration and article and photographs were printed in nine of the main newspapers in Pakistan.

The speakers also thanked all those individuals and organisations internationally who had sent messages of support and protest letters about the strike and in particular the Committee for a Workers’ International.

This article is from the Trade Union Rights Campaign – Pakistan website

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May 2005