Pakistan: Telecomm Action Committee betrays struggle against privatisation

Trade Union Rights Campaign statement

The Trade Union Rights Campaign (PTURC) strongly condemns the betrayal of the Telecom Strike Action Committee leadership which has signed an agreement with management to accept the privatisation of the state-owned telecom company – PTCL. The leadership has succumbed to the pressure put on it by the management. This is a complete departure from its previous position of resisting privatisation.

It had been agreed in the meeting held in July to launch a fresh movement against privatisation and to press management to accept the other demands. The meeting also adopted the resolution put forward by the TURCP members to observe a ‘black day’ on 18 July, when Etisalate, the new company would take over the company.

This call forced the government to postpone the transfer for one month. The new campaign was picking up momentum when some leaders of the Action Committee announced the postponement of the national strike action to be started from 3 August. Now the Action Committee leaders have signed an agreement with the management that says they will not resist the take-over of the company by Etsalate in September. This is a big set-back to the anti-privatisation movement.

PTCL workers inspired a whole layer of workers with their heroic struggle, but this betrayal is a big blow to this struggle. It has demoralised the workers and trade union activists. But this struggle is not over yet. This is the beginning of a new struggle to save the concessions won by the workers through their long struggle. The new management will try to take back these concessions and to retrench thousands of workers. Workers’ unity is key in this situation, but the present leadership will not want to put up a fight against any new attacks. In these conditions it is very important to form a broad democratic militant union, consisting of all militant sections of telecom workers.

The Trade Union Rights Campaign appeals to all militant trade union activists, including the second and third layer of honest leaders, to take an initiative to form this militant union and to continue the fight to protect the rights and concessions gained. A new battle will start soon, so it is important to prepare for this fight immediately.

The Action Committee leaders have not only betrayed the telecom workers but also all those who supported this struggle nationally and internationally.

  • For a new democratic militant union!
  • For a new workers’ party!
  • Come together, fight together!
  • For workers’ democracy and a planned economy!

Pakistan Trade Union Rights Campaign sponsored by Socialist Movement Pakistan demands:

  • Renationalise PTCL under the democratic control and management of workers.
  • Withdraw all paramilitary forces from PTCL premises.
  • Stop the victimisation of militant trade unionists.
  • Abolish IRO 2002, Labour Policy 2002, remove from service ordinance 2000-1 and all anti-workers and anti-union laws.
  • Stop harassment and intimidation at PTCL premises.
  • Cancel all anti-working class agreements with the IMF, World Bank and WTO.
  • No to imperialist globalisation, wars and destruction.

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September 2005