World Politics

Pakistan: workers, peasants take lead to revive a political tradition

Abdul Khaliq
Lahore, 2nd February 2010

Despite prevailing fear of everyday explosions and suicide bombings
across Pakistan, over 10,000 power loom workers and peasants braved
their way to Dhobi Ghat ground, Faisalabad on 29th February 2010. Do
doubt a marvelous indicator of their commitment to the working class

Though much bigger gathering was being expected but under the given
scary circumstances, when masses prefer to stay at home, everyone is
gripped by fear of suicide bombings, including mainstream political
parties, which are evasive to come in the open and organize public
gatherings, workers and peasants opted and dared to come out to
register their demands in a powerful way.

In this apolitical atmosphere, they have revived the much needed
tradition of 1970s and 1980s of big political gatherings, when people
use to attend such gathering in huge numbers and sit for hours to
listen their leaders.

Thus the show was successful by many aspects and achieved, to large
extent, its objectives of getting working classes together and closer
at a united platform in order to forge durable future unity. It
conveyed not only strong message of workers-peasants resistance to the
neo-liberal policies of the rulers, but also renewed the hope of
possibility of collective struggle of the progressive forces in

The public meeting, jointly organized by Labor Quami (national)
Movement (LQM) and Anjuman Mzareen (Tenant committee) Punjab (AMP) was
attended by a large number of right-based civil society groups,
movements, alliances, networks, trade unions, left parties, women
groups and addressed by their representatives. International delegates
from Fourth International (Pierre Rousset) and Socialist Alliance
Australia (Simon Butler) also spoke on the occasion and voiced their
solidarity with the workers and peasants of Pakistan.

Following resolutions, comprising just demands of the working classes
of Pakistan was presented, widely circulated and adopted with
thundering claps on the occasion:

·        Government should issue social security cards to all the
workers forth worth and fix minimum wages of workers at Rs. 15000.

·        Go away with anti-labor laws, restricting formation of new
trade unions and stop vindictive actions against the labor leaders.

·        Reinstate forthwith all the workers thrown out of the private
enterprises during Musharraf regime and present PPP government.

·        Increase the number of labor courts through effective
pro-workers reforms in order to provide cheap and speedy justice to
the laborers.

·        Effective measures be taken to end electricity load shedding,
which has crippled the power loom industry, rendering thousands of
workers jobless.

·        Financial packages be announced for small power loom units,
end yarn hoarding to sustain running of power looms and livelihoods of

·        State notification be issued to increase and make wages of
all power loom workers at par across the country.

·        End with contract and daily wages system; regularize all
employees in state and private sector.

·        Labor laws be strictly implemented, a tripartite
(worker-employers-government) conference be called in to devise new
labor policy.

·        End the on-going privatization process of state-owned
enterprises and halt the privatization plan of Pakistan Railways.

·        Women workers be paid equal wages to that of men workers.
Home-based women workers be recognized as workers and counted as
skilled labor force.

·        Legislation be introduced to protect the labor rights of the
informal sector workers, being exploited at the hands of the middlemen
and contractors.

·        Industry status be granted to bangle-making in Hyderabad.

·        Strict implementation of Bonded Labor Act 1992. Bosses be
forced to end advance system, act upon government notification
regarding payment of just wages at brick kiln factories.

·        Stop unlawful cut on pensions of communication pensioners in
Hazara division and ensure repayment of the deductions forthwith.

·        Implement minimum wage law (Rs. 6000) for all the workers
across the country and especially in Hattar industry, Hazara Division.

·         Reinstate all the sacked workers of Mardan Takhtby Sugar mills.

·        Effective, meaningful, radical and doable national level
agriculture reforms be introduced to end feudal system in the country.
All the state owned lands be distributed among landless, local
tenants, small peasants and Haris.  Women be given priority in this

·        Agriculture lands and their occupation be restored to the
tenants of Alipur Chattaha, all illegal cases registered against them
be abolished.

·        Tenants tilling state agriculture lands of military farms and
military welfare trust farms, since decades be given land ownership

·        Seventh wage Board award for journalists be implemented forthwith.

·        Big city allowance for Faisalabad be announced and High Court
Bench in City should be established.

·        Free and quality Education from primary to University level
for all, be announced and at least 10 percent of GDP be fixed for
education sector.

·        Class-based education system be abolished, uniform syllabus
be introduced across the country for all Educational institutes.
Technical and scientific education be declared compulsory.

·        Maximum budget for health, free heath facilities for poor and
housing for the low income groups be announced.

·        A debt audit commission be formed to investigate into all
loan contracts, made with IFIs, sine 1947. Refuse to repay all
illegitimate external debts.

·        Military budget be cut and the amount saved thus be spent on
social sector.

·        Government should announce at least Rs. 10,000 as
unemployment allowance for the unemployed youth.

·        All relevant rules be also introduced for teachers in workers
welfare schools and all employees of workers welfare schools be
considered as employees of welfare board.  Social security scheme and
Old Age Benefits be declared for teachers of these schools

·        Second shift for students be introduced in all the workers
welfare schools, upgrading these schools to the status of higher
secondary schools.

·        US Drone attacks be halt forthwith, massacres of local
innocent population, women and children in the name of war on
terrorism be stopped.

·        Provincial autonomy be ensured per 1973 Constitution and
appropriate measures be taken to end sense of deprivation among
smaller provinces.

·        All out priority-based steps be taken to end discriminatory
laws against women and abolish all sorts of violence against women.
Exchange marriages, karo-kari and other patriarchal traditions be
announced illegal.

·        Rights of Religious minorities, indigenous communities be
strictly protected   and all discriminatory laws, including blasphemy
laws be abolished.

·        Women be given due representation according to their
population in legislative bodies and other institutions at all levels.

·        Local bodies elections be announced forthwith and be held
under the supervision of Election Commission of Pakistan.

·        Emergency measures be taken to arrest price-hike, prices of
petroleum products and daily items be lowered by restoring state
subsidy on the necessary items.