LAHORE: Employee unions of different organisations vowed to continue their struggle against the privatisation of government institutions.
They termed February 2 as a black day when two PIA workers were killed during protests last year.
On Thursday, workers of different public sector entities including PIA, WAPDA, Pakistan Railways, PTCL, Professors & Lecturers Association Punjab, Punjab School Teachers Union, Young Doctors Association and Paramedics Association organised a solidarity seminar against the killing of two PIA activists on February 2, 2016. They were killed during the workers’ struggle against PIA’s privatisation.
The programme was held under the banner of countrywide organisation Red Workers Front (RWF). The Progressive Youth Alliance, a student organisation, also took part in the demonstrators, paying homage to the slain airline workers.
Dr Aftab Ashraf, a founding member of YDA and central organiser of RWF, said workers of Pakistan had been functioning in deplorable conditions. He said the need of the hour was a countrywide movement.
He explained the importance of the eight-day strike of PIA workers in 2016 when all domestic and international flights were cancelled. He said if workers of other departments had joined this strike, matters would have been very different.
“Unemployment, inflation, poverty, inequality, low wages, job insecurity and contractual and daily wage systems have made labourers’ lives miserable. Through a general strike, workers need to challenge these policies,” he added.
He also criticised lawmakers who completely disconnected themselves from the plight of labourers. Ashraf said all political entities of the country, internally, are supporting privatisation.
PIA union leader Zeeshan, during his address, stressed the blood of “innocent activists” will not go in vain. He vowed that the state would be questioned when workers of the country “set their own government”.
He said privatisation represented an ideology through which the government was withdrawing service delivery for common people and handing it over to the private sector. A resolution was unanimously passed to struggle for permanent positions for PIA daily wage workers.
Maqsood Hamdani of Wapda Hydro Union said that the participants were gathered to protest against the privatisation of the project. “We should not just limit the struggle to just emotional slogans.”
He said the movement was not a struggle against a person, government or political party. Hamdani added the workers were enabling people to play their role for workers’ unity.
“It is struggle against the ruling elite of the country and working people needed to become a political party if they wanted to succeed against privatisation,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2017.