Pakistan: No to the 12 Hour Working Day, No To the Industrial Relations Ordinance 2002

Trade Union Rights Campaign meeting attracts over 100 activists

Trade Union Rights Campaign Organised a trade union meeting in the industrial area of Kot Lakhpat in Lahore. More than 100 prominent leaders and activists of 21 different trade unions in the area attended the meeting. The meeting was presided over by Fazal Abbas Shah, chairman of the TURCP, and Khalid Bhatti, national organiser of the TURCP, was the main speaker. The office bearers of the Awami Labour Federation also participated in the meeting and announced that they were joining the TURCP. The leaders of this federation are veteran trade union leaders of the area and very well respected among the workers. In an indication of the strength of workers organisations in the area, it was called the Chicago of Pakistan in the 1970s and 1980s. The workers were in control of this whole area from 1969 to 1973 and they formed workers committees to run it. Police and state officials were not allowed to enter. This is still the largest working class residential area in Lahore with very rich working class tradition of struggle. The largest workers demonstration against the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul- Haq in 1983 was also organised in this area, which was led by veteran trade union leader Amin Bhatti (now a central leader of TURCP and SMP member).

Many participants declare this TURCP meeting as the best meeting of trade unionists they attended in last 10 years. Almost all the participants showed a keen interest in the work of TURCP and asked for more material. This successful meeting is a big step forward for not only the TURCP but also for Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI in Pakistan). There is huge potential in this area for our political work.

The speakers strongly condemned the anti-working class policies of the Musharraf regime. They declared the increase in working hours as new form of slavery. The present military led government has increased working hours from 8 hours a day to 12 hours a day, for industrial and private sector workers. The prominent speakers were Amin Bhatti, Afzal Zaidi, Rukhsana Manzoor, Mirza Fazal Ilahi, Liaqat Ali, Fazal Bhutt, Muhammad Yousaf, Sher Ahmad and Mirza Nawaz. A few women workers were also present and they showed keen interest to work with TURCP.

The following resolutions were passed unanimously in the meeting:

  • No to the 12 hour working day.
  • Repeal anti workers IRO 2002, finance bill 2006 and removal from service ordinance 2000.
  • Stop the privatization of state industries, corporations, services and financial institutions.
  • Repeal all the discriminatory laws against women including Hudood laws, stop sexual harassment at work places.
  • No to the casual jobs, abolish contract and daily wages system in the industries and companies.
  • Implement the “abolishing bonded labour act 1992”, stop bonded labour at brick kilns.

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November 2006