Pakistan: Journalist union and Hawkers union win the important battle against bosses

The joint struggle of the Federal Union of Journalists and the Newspaper Hawkers Union forced the newspaper bosses to retreat from reducing the newspapers holidays from 8 to 6 days annually.

The bosses over the years have already reduced the holidays from 18 to 8 annually. The newspaper bosses have also refused to implement the new wage board award (package to increase wages of journalists, prepared jointly by journalist union and bosses in the presence of a government nominee, usually a Supreme Court judge). Anger has been developing for many years against the bosses’ onslaught. The decision to reduce holidays sparked this anger and the journalist union decided to launch a protest movement. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ) organized protest demonstrations across the country in which hundreds of journalist participated. The Hawkers Union (Akhbar Frosh Union) also decided to join this struggle. Both unions organised a series of demonstrations which forced the bosses to retreat. This was the first joint struggle of these unions for many years. The retreat by the newspaper bosses was the first victory for journalists for many years.

TURCP and Socialist Movement Pakistan (SMP) members took an active part in this protest movement. Many copies of the ‘Socialist’ were sold in the demonstration. SMP was the only left organization in Islamabad and Karachi which took part in the demonstrations and remained an active part of the movement. The TURCP pledge its support and showed full solidarity with journalists and hawkers.

Another victory for Hawkers union

After this battle, the hawker’s union takes on its most difficult battle against the largest rightwing newspaper, Nawai- Waqat, which was trying to cut the hawkers’ commission by almost 40%. This was a big financial loss for the poor hawkers. When the Hawkers’ union leaders tried to negotiate with boss of this newspaper, he simply refused to meet them. The Hawkers union decided to boycott this news paper and refused to sell this paper. The owner of the paper tried to ignore this boycott and tried to sell the paper through their own hawkers but this effort also failed. On the fourth day of this boycott, the boss announced plans to withdraw the proposed cut and invite the Hawkers’ union leadership for the negotiations. This newspaper is the most anti-working class paper in Pakistan. It is a traditional representative of the conservative ruling class and hates workers activists and socialists. This victory has further increased the confidence of hawkers and newspaper workers. This is another defeat for the bosses in a short period of time. The bosses are making millions from the profits but workers are not getting wages on time. There is no increase in the wages of journalist and employees of these newspapers for 7 years because the bosses refused to implement the agreed wage board increase. The bosses are preparing for a new offensive. They will try to divide the journalist and hawkers unions alliance by giving concession to one and attack the other. The TURCP has proposed to both unions to continue the unity and alliance to defend their rights, in order to present a united front against the bosses.

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