Kashmir: First Trade Union Rights campaign meeting held in Mirpur

International workers’ solildarity, a must for workers in Kashmir

On 29 May the Trade Union Rights Campaign Kashmir (TURC-K) organised a meeting to discuss the historic traditions of May Day in Mirpur where over fifty people participated, including industrial workers from local yarn mill, foam factory, rickshaw drivers, students and trade union leaders including PTCL, Akhbar-Faroosh, Azam Janjua, Mumtaz Arzoo of Socialist Movement Pakistan. and members of International Socialist Resistance, Shakoor Malik, Anjum Malik, and TURC-K organisers Jamal Khan and Toqeer Gillani were in attendance.

Jamal Khan introduced the meeting explaining the reason for launching TURC-K on May Day 2005. The main impetus for this campaign came from the conditions facing workers in Kashmir, namely the complete lack of labour laws or courts and no right to form a Trade Union under the Interim Act 1974 governing the territory of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir.

It was no accident this meeting was held in Mirpur, one of the most urbanised towns in Kashmir with over 20 000 industrial workers who face terrible hardship including no payment of overtime or observance of the minimum wage of 3000 Rupees a month (£30).

All the speakers explained that these conditions existed because of the capitalist economy and other examples of exploitation were given such as the conditions facing workers in the privatised telecommunications company PTCL and also the Pakistani Steel Mills.

As to the forthcoming elections on 11 July to the Legislative Assembly, speakers said that all parties stood for their own interests and not for the working class and poor. There was an urgent need for a party that would defend and fight for the rights of working class, young people and poor.

Speakers explained how millions of rupees were being spent to buy up loyalties and arms for the forthcoming elections. The rocketing of prices, power cuts, water shortages were caused by capitalism and none of the political representatives of the main traditional parties paid any heed to the common problem faced by the masses. Speakers explained that the capitalist system bred on profits, has led to wars, civil wars, environmental destruction, and mass poverty.

Azam from the Socialist Movement Pakistan highlighted the courageous struggle of the PTCL workers last year against Musharraf regime and the solidarity extended by the working class internationally from 27 countries for this strike. He also explained the role of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) in organising this struggle and its role as an international socialist organisation campaigning in all five continents. In this vein other speakers also explained the importance of international solidarity and the need for an international organisation to struggle against capitalism and feudalism.

Many of those attending the meeting bought copies of the Communist Manifesto, our newspaper the Socialist and also pamphlets about the life of Che Guevarra.

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