The authorities in Baluchistan have released the arrested leaders and workers today. But the strike is still continuing. The decision on the future of the strike will be made tomorrow, when it is expected that the finance minister of Baluchistan will announce a package which spells acceptance of the workers' demands.
The breakthrough in the negotiations between CSEA. (Civil Secretariat Employees' Association) and the government of Baluchistan, came on Saturday, November 24, when an agreement was reached which would represent a total victory for the strikers. According to this agreement the arrested workers were to have been released on Saturday, November 24. The Governor of Baluchistan issued the orders for the release of 100 arrested union leaders and workers. But the Chief Secretary of Baluchistan refused to accept the agreement.
Because of this contradiction within the ranks of the bureaucracy and the government, there was a delay in the release of the arrested leaders. And now the workers are saying that until the Finance Minister himself announces the agreement in the General Council of the union, they will not call off the strike.
The General Council will be held tomorrow, when the minister is due to announce the package. According to the agreement reached last Saturday, the wages of the workers are to be increased by 600 rupees (10 US dollars) per month (a rise of about 20 percent) and the government also agreed to implement the other demands, in accordance with the July agreement. We will send you the other details of this agreement tomorrow after the General Council meeting.
This victory is very important for of two reasons:
- This strike is the first successful strike against the present military regime. Despite using the full power of the state against the workers, the military regime failed to break and defeat the strike. This will give enormous courage and inspiration to the whole trade union movement and working class.
- This victory will help to build the forces of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign on a national basis, and especially in Baluchistan, because the PTUDC is rapidly emerging as the only fighting force in Pakistan. This campaign has also proved again that international solidarity is the key and a most important factor in the trade union movement. Now ordinary workers are convinced that without international help and solidarity no struggle can be won.
In short, this victory is a great step forward for PTUDC and for the whole Pakistan Labour Movement. After his release comrade Hameed Khan said:
"We are confident that victory is ours because we are not alone in this fight. Our brothers and sisters in the international workers' movement are with us. The international solidarity campaign boosted our morale and give us the courage and inspiration to continue the strike when in police custody. During this strike we practically understood the meaning of the slogan: "Workers of the world, unite!" An injury to one, is an injury to all. This victory is not the victory of CSEA but a victory of the whole international movement. We will use this inspiration to step up our struggle against this rotten capitalist system and for the socialist transformation of society."
National Organiser, PTUDC
November 26, 2001
See also the PTUDC website: www.ptudc.org