More than 300 Trade Unionists in attendance
The TURCP organised its first national convention on 23 November 2006 in Lahore Press Club. More than 300 trade union leaders and activists attended the convention from all over the country. Eighty-eight different public and private sector unions were represented at the convention. There was hardly any sector of economy or of working class not represented at the convention.
Moreover the convention received big coverage in the national media, with 9 national newspapers and 4 TV channels covering the event. The morale and mood of the meeting was very high and enthusiastic in a completely jam-packed hall. The success of this convention was not only that a large number of trade unions were present but the decision to launch a joint struggle against the Musharraf regime’s anti-worker policies and laws by one platform was also a great achievement. This convention provided an opportunity not only to discuss the problems faced by the trade unions and working class but also enable different trade unions to chalk out a strategy to begin a united struggle against the capitalists’ neo-liberal onslaught. The representation of the both public and private sector unions in such large numbers showed the respect and authority enjoyed by TURCP amongst trade unionists and workers in Pakistan. Representatives from the 15 largest public sector unions representing 600 000 and 4 largest trade union federations representing nearly 2 million public and private sector workers were among the participants in this convention.
The TURCP convention was one of the biggest trade union meetings in the last decade. Many veteran trade union leaders expressed their surprise at the size of the convention. Some of them said that they never thought that such a large and fully representative meeting of trade union activists in this difficult political situation, when frustration, disappointment and disillusionment are at the peak in the working class, could take place.
The convention also expressed full support and solidarity with the earthquake affected workers in Pakistani administrated Kashmir. Trade union leaders from 3 district of Kashmir came to attend the convention. They described the dreadful conditions under which the workers in Kashmir are forced to live.
The main discussion in the convention was focused on “Globlisation, present political, economic and social crises, and the role of trade unions”. Khalid Bhatti out going National Organizer introduced the discussion which continued for 3 hours during which 21 contributions were made. Many participants described this discussion as the best they had ever heard on these issues. It was not just a mere discussion but an in-depth analysis of the processes and guideline for action. Even some journalists were also amused to hear such a rich discussion in a workers convention. Most of the speakers also emphasised the need to build a working class party to defend the interests of working people. All the leading trade union leaders and activists supported the idea of a workers party.
Azad Qadri secretary general TURCP and Rukhsana Manzoor National Finance organizer intervened in the discussion and explained that why the working class needs a political voice.
The most striking thing in the TURCP convention was the anger shown and expressed by trade union activists against the present regime and rotten capitalist system.
The convention demanded an immediate repeal of Industrial Relations Ordinance (IRO2002), Industrial policy of 2003 and Finance Bill 2006.
Speakers emphasised the need to organise a joint struggle to get rights and to stop the free market onslaught. There was general consensus that without struggle and workers unity, the workers and trade unions would not be able to defend their rights. Speakers said that the present situation faced by the trade union movement is a result of the compromises, betrayals and opportunism of the majority of trade union leaders. They said that new fighting trade union leaders and democratic unions needed to strengthen the workers movement. The problems faced by the working class can only be solved through struggles, strikes, protest demonstrations and pickets. Struggle is the way forward but this requires correct strategy and tactics.
Speakers from telecom, railways, postal, airport services, steel mills and teachers paid rich tribute to the TURCP for playing an active and key role in their struggles. They gave thanks for the consistent support provided by TURCP during their struggles. They said that they practically learned about workers solidarity and internationalism through the solidarity organise by the TURCP. They pledged their continued support for TURCP campaigns. They also thanked the CWI for its continued support for the Pakistani trade union movement. PTCL leaders expressed special gratitude to the CWI comrades for organising international protest demonstrations in their support during the historic PTCL strike in 2005.
The main speakers at the event were Azad Qadri, Khalid Bhatti, Fazal Abbass Shah, Rukhsana Manzoor, Fazl-e-Wahid, Amin Bhatti, Hameed Chana, Azam Janjuah, Baboo Ladhu, Talaat Mehmood, Sardar Khalid Mehmood, Sardar Imtiaz, Tauqeer Gillani, Muhammad Ramazan, Waqar Jaafri Mirza Fazal Ilahi, Lala Muhammad Hanif, Arshad Chaudhary, Zahoor Khan, Malik Anwer.
New leadership elected
TURCP elected a new central executive committee and office bearers at this convention. The new office bearers are:
- President – Faqir Hamiaty, Karachi Steel Mills
- Secretary General – Azad Qadri, PTCL
- National Organiser – Fazal Abbas Shah, Post Office
- Chairman – Amin Bhatti, Pakistan Electric Company
- Finance Organiser – Rukhsana Manzoor Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakistani Workers Confederation
- International Secretary – Khalid Bhatti PTCL
- Sindh Organiser – Hameed Chanah Teachers union
- Punjab Organiser – Talaat Mehmood Aasim RMS union
A decision was made to organise provincial conventions in all 4 provinces of Pakistan in 2007.
These resolutions were passed unanimously in the convention.
- Abolish IRO2002, Labour Policy 2002, Removal from Service Presidential Ordinance 2000 and Industrial Policy of 2003.
- Ban imposed on the teacher unions in Sindh should be lifted immediately and reinstate the sacked teacher unions leaders.
- Stop privatisation of public sector corporations and services. Nationalise industries, banks, insurance companies and services under the democratic control of the working class.
- Stop the privatisation of education and health. Free education and health for every one.
- Cancel all the anti working class agreements signed with IMF, World Bank, WTO and other imperialist international financial institutions.
- Minimum wage should be fixed at 10,000 per month.
- 50% cut in the prices of fuel, power and food items, stop the price hike.
- Trade union rights for all the public and private sector workers, stop union busting in the private industries.
- Abolish all the discriminatory laws against women, equal pay and rights for women workers.
- Stop killing, kidnapping and war in Sri Lanka, stop death threats to comrade Sri Secretary General United Socialist Party Sri Lanka (CWI).
- Stop the planned deportation of Kurdish refugees from Greek Cyprus. Give asylum to all the families of Kurdish Refugees.