Home Human Rights Workers’ Red Flag March in Karachi against govt. policies

Workers’ Red Flag March in Karachi against govt. policies

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Workers’ Red Flag March in Karachi against govt. policies

Trade union leaders said that the ruling elite are transferring the looted money from Pakistan to their safe heavens abroad, while the millions of workers of this country are deprived of the basic facilities of life.

Karachi: National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) jointly organized a Workers’ Red Flag March from the Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday to lodge protest over price hike, joblessness, poverty and hunger. A large number of workers displaying red flags took part in the rally.

Addressing the rally, trade union leaders said that the ruling elite are transferring the looted money from Pakistan to their safe heavens abroad, while the millions of workers of this country are deprived of the basic facilities of life, despite the fact that they work tirelessly. The rulers to get their vested interests have mortgaged Pakistan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other imperialistic lending institutions. An artificial political system created as a result of this economic slavery has now facing a downfall. The workers have pledged to fight this system based on injustice.

They said that due to imprudent economic, social and foreign policies of the rulers, the country has been pushed to the verge of collapse. The ruling classes, who represent the vested interests of international capital are pitched against the masses. The entire economic system of Pakistan is in the grip of the agents and employees of international lending institutions like the IMF. As a result, price hike, joblessness, hunger and poverty are at their peak. The rates of daily use kitchen items like wheat flour, sugar, cooking oil, rice and pulses have increased by one hundred percent. Medicines are made costlier by 300 to 400 percent and gas and electricity by 100 to 200 percent. This sharp price hike has broken the back of workers.

Karachi-Rally-Sindh-Courier-1They said that the rulers shamelessly accuse the masses of not paying taxes, but the fact is that the masses pay taxes of Rs.610 billion a year just on petroleum products, while the government collects more than Rs.4000 billion taxes every year from other heads also. General sales tax on daily-use items is 31 percent of the total revenue of the government and this money is robbed from the pockets of common man. Due to anti-people policies of the sitting government today more than 16 million people are jobless. The number of the people living beneath the poverty line has seen a record increase of more than 2 Crore during the tenure of this government so far. The numbers of poor people visiting free kitchens have increased sharply. The numbers of beggars and homeless people in the urban areas of Pakistan is increasing sharply. Under the dictation of international lending institutions like IMFs, the government is systemically paralyzing and privatizing important entities of public sector and millions of people would become jobless due to this privatization.

They said that due to anti-people policies of this government, the Pakistani rupee has been devalued by about 17 percent, which means that the real wages of workers are cut by a half. The inflation rate in Pakistan is more than 11 percent which is almost double than other countries of the region, while per capita income in Pakistan is almost half than other countries of the region. The local and foreign loans have increased with a sharp pace. In 2018 the foreign loans were 93 billion dollars which are now increased to 122 billion dollars. The local loans in 2018 were 25 trillion rupees which have now increased to 40 trillion rupees.

The speakers said that in the backdrop of ongoing worst economic crisis in Pakistan, the capitalists and their organizations have filed a case in court against Rs.25000 per month minimum wages as announced by the government. These lawbreaker and apathetic capitalists are those people who do not pay taxes and also do not get registered their workers with social security card pension institutions. They do not recognize the minimum wages as the right of workers. They have kept 99 percent of workers deprived of the constitutional right of making unions. They have introduced illegal contract labor system in their organizations. Today factories and workplaces have become slavery houses for workers where they toil in inhuman and unsafe working conditions.

They said that to make workers afraid these capitalists employed retired officers of security agencies in their factories on heavy wages. In industrial zones there is virtually a martial law situation. Institutions like labor department, labor courts and NIRC have become front men of the capitalists and they work against the right of labors. The violation of human rights, labor laws and constitutional basic rights in factories and workplaces is the order of the day. All this is happening in the backdrop when Pakistan from 2014 has promised to safeguard the rights of workers against the facilities under GSP Plus. However, the labor rights as enshrined in the GSP Plus are being openly violated and as a result heavy duty could be slapped over garments and other products being exported to the European countries, which would cast very negative effects on the national industry, especially textile and garments sectors.

They said that due to the wrong policies of the sitting government, the resultant economic and political crisis has compelled different sections of society to take to the streets. There is ban and curbs on political and social workers, journalists and media organizations that expose the horrible economic, political and social crises looming large over the country. The sitting rulers in order to hide facts, to block access to information and to gag the freedom of Press and speech have hatched a conspiracy to slap a so-called Pakistan Media Development Authority that is being opposed by the journalists and media workers across the whole Pakistan.

They announced that to get rid of this crisis the only way is to organize a nationwide organization of workers for which efforts have already begun.

Karachi-Rally-Sindh-Courier-2Through resolutions it was demanded to implementation of Rs.25000 minimum wages; ensure eight-hour working day, one paid weekly holiday and double rate overtime; end of modern slavery system of illegal contact labor; registration of every worker with social security and pension institutions; end of harassment of women and discrimination towards them at workplaces; lowering the price of wheat flour, cooking oil, pulses, sugar, rice, milk, electricity, gas, petroleum products, medicines, education, health, public transport and other basic needs of life; stopping privatization of public institutions like Pakistan Steel Mills and WAPDA; reinstating the workers and journalists sacked from government, semi-government and autonomous bodies and abolition of black law of Pakistan Media Development Authority.

Those spoke included Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation), Zehra Khan of Home Based Women Workers Federation, Karamat Ali of National Labor Council, Asad Iqbal Butt of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Riaz Abbasi of National Trade Union Federation, Gul Rehman of Workers Right Movement, Faheem Siddiqui of Karachi Union of Journalists, Saira Feroze of United HB Workers Union, Jamila A. Latif of Home Based Women Bangle Workers Union, Qazi Khidr of HRCP, Aqib Hussain of J & P Coats, Babar Khan of Rauf Textile Workers Union, Saeeda Khatoon of Ali Enterprise Factory Fire Affecttees Association, Sajjad Zahir of Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannafeen, Khaliq Zadgan of Lyari Awami Mahaz, Progressive Intellectual Dr. Asghar Darshti, Owais Jatoi of General Textile Workers Union, Mir Zulfiqar of Workers Education and Research Organization, Rabia and Nadra leaders of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation, Wahid Baloch, a progressive intellectual, comrade sultan of JKNP, Saeed Baloch of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Manzoor Razi of Pakistan Railway union and others.

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Sindh Courier