On Monday, July 3rd, Manzoor Ahmed, Pakistani MP and president of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) met with Joseba Echebarria and Mila Lacanal, members of the National Executive of the General Workers Union (UGT) in charge of international affairs. Also present at the meeting was a representative of the National Executive of the Spanish Students Union (SE), which organised Manzoor's visit to Spain. The meeting was part of the European tour of Manzoor Ahmed, aimed at raising solidarity for the PTUDC, and against the attacks on trade union freedoms and rights which the Pakistani working class is suffering.
At the beginning of the meeting, comrade Manzoor "thanked the UGT, an organisation with hundreds of thousands of workers, for greeting him". Jose Echebarria thanked Manzoor for visiting the UGT and explained to him the history of the UGT as a workers’ organisation with strong socialist traditions. During the conversation Manzoor underlined the "terrible conditions of the working class and the poor in Kashmir" after the terrible earthquake a few months ago, and the mismanagement and corruption of the Musharraf dictatorship in dealing with the relief aid.
Regarding the trade union movement, Manzoor described the "recent wave of privatisations which the Musharraf government is carrying out in Pakistan, which will mean severe attacks on the workers' living conditions". He underlined how these privatisations are taking place in complete secrecy, and how even a bourgeois institution like the Supreme Court of Pakistan had no alternative but to rule against the illegal manoeuvres that have taken place to try to privatise Pakistan Steel Mill.
At the same time, Manzoor proposed that the UGT leaders should "organise a visit of European trade unions, from the UGT and other left wing trade unions which are part of the ICFTU, to witness first hand the conditions of the Pakistani working class under the Musharraf dictatorship".
Finally, Manzoor agreed to keep the UGT informed of any attack on the trade unions and the labour movement in Pakistan, and Joseba Echebarria said that the UGT would respond immediately to any such attacks and agreed to collaborate with the PTUDC and to establish regular contacts with the campaign.