The workers of Pakistan Steel Mills entered a new phase of the “War against Privatization” on Sunday December 18, 2005. The PTUDC called for National Day of Action as part of the anti-privatization struggle of the Pakistani working class. The bosses want to plunder the company and its enormous amounts of wealth. The workers of Pakistan Steel Mills are angrily opposed to the idea of privatization. The PTUDC has played an important role in helping the workers to form a unified voice against the privatization, which included the organization of a successful War against Privatization Conference held on December 3, 2005. More than 31 trade unions from various private and public industrial sectors participated in this conference in solidarity with the workers of the Pakistan Steel Mills. The conference elected a Joint Action Committee which was responsible for the day-to-day work of organizing the anti-privatization campaign.As part of the National Day of Action rallies, protests and meetings were held in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadoo, Sadiqabad, Rahimyar Khan, Bhawalpur, Dherki, Kot Addo, Multan, Lahore, Pindi and Quetta. Hundreds of workers and youth participated and condemned the privatization of government owned industries.
We provide here reports of the demonstrations and meetings across the country:
A mass rally was organized by the PTUDC in Karachi for December 18. Some 400 workers from various industries came out carrying banners and chanting slogans against privatization and imperialism. There were also a number of women workers and political activists on hand to register their protest. A number of trade unions participated in the protest including the Joint-Action Committee of the Pakistan Steel workers, the People's Workers' union, Pakistan Steel Employees Unity, the Pakistan Steel Officers Association, the Pearl Continental Workers' Union, KESC, People's Unity of PIA, the People's Labour Bureau, the Railway Workers' Federation, the Pakistan Trade Union Federation, the Shaheed Nazir Abbasi Foundation, the Karachi Shoe Makers' Union, the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, the Progressive Workers Union and the Pakistan Steel Workers' Confederation.
A number of trade union and political leaders addressed the rally including, Tariq Watanyar, Dhani Bux Summo, Sittar Butt, Farid Awan, Ayala Qureshi, Rasheed Iqbal, Naveed Aftab, Manzoor Rizi, Latif Mughal, Hameeda Ghagroo, Syed Hameed and Ali Yawar. . They were united in their criticism of Musharraf regime's privatization policy which has left thousands of workers without a job. The living standards of the workers, already at rock bottom, will fall even further and push these workers into absolute misery.
In Hyderabad, the PTUDC organized a demonstration in front of the Press Club. Hundreds of workers, chanting slogans against privatization, the IMF and the World Bank, demanded an end to the brutal policies of the Musharraf regime against the working class.
Jai Perkash of the PTUDC, Essar Das, Nisar Chandio and Manzoor addressed the demonstration.
Nearly 100 workers and youth participated in the PTUDC organized demonstration in Dadoo. The workers and activists were chanting slogans and displayed banners against the privatization of the Steel Mills and also condemned the different attacks of the regime on the working class.
Several hundred workers attended the anti-privatization rally organized by the PTUDC in Sadiqabad. Workers and activists from the FFC Union, the Labor Union United Sugar Mills, the Sanitary Workers Union, Inqlabi Reksha Union, the Taxi Union, the Painters' Union, the Union of Journalists, the Workers' of Pakistan Peoples' Party, Youth for International Socialism, and the People's Student Federation were present at the rally. The rally started at the Sadiqabad Press Club Sadik and traveled down Railway Road to the National Press Club. Qamar uz Zaman Khan, the Secretary General of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, Abbas Taj, PTUDC organizer in South Punjab, Nawab Din Lashari, president of the FFC Union, Nadeem But, the president of Inqlabi Reksha Union, Syed Mukhtar ul Hassan, the president of the People's Lawyers Association, as well as Sadik Abad and Shahid Azir addressed the rally and condemned the government and its policies.
Hundreds of students, workers and political activists participated in the demonstration in Rahimyar Khan. Haider Chugtai, PTUDC organizer in Rahimyar Khan, Mehmood-ul-Hasan, Barkat Ali Bajwa, Fahim Nawaz Khan and many other leaders from the PSF and the PYO addressed the demonstration. They explained that the “war against privatization” was just the beginning of this fight and that the workers would fight until victory.
More than one hundred workers came out for PTUDC demonstration in Dherki. KTN, a (television station), broadcast news of the demonstration. Sarwer Abbasi of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, Abdul Haq of the Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation and Hazoor Bakhash of the FFC addressed the rally and condemned the privatization policy of the regime.
In Pindi the PTUDC arranged a demonstration against the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills in front of Press Club. A large number of workers and youth from Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Taxila/ Wah Cantt, Pakhtoonkhawa, and Kashmir were present on the demonstration.
Yasir Irfat, a local PTUDC organiser, Latif Qureshi, president of Pakistan Telecommunication Unity, Shukat Satti, vice-president of the PFUJ, Fauzia Shahid, of the PFUJ, C. R. Shamsi, former general secretary of the PFUJ, Adil Khan, local convener of the JKRYA (Jammu Kashmir Revolutionary Alliance), Shujaat Kazmi, former president of the JKNSF (Jammu Kashmir National Student's Federation) and Lal Khan, editor of Asian Marxist Review, addressed the demonstration. They all condemned the policies of the Musharraf regime and warned that if the privatization of the Steel Mills was not stopped then there would be a movement of workers throughout Pakistan which could overthrow the regime.
In Lahore, the PTUDC along with People's Labour Bureau, called for a demonstration against the privatization of the Pakistan Steel Mills. Several leaders of the PPP and workers from several unions were present on the demonstration. A large number of youth of the BNT (Campaign against Unemployment) were also present on the demonstration.
In Quetta, a protest demonstration was organized by the PTUDC and the Anti-Labour Laws Action Committee. A large number YFIS members also attended the demonstration. Nazar Mengal, the General Secretary of the People's Labour Bureau and president of the PTUDC in Baluchistan, Nasreen Taj, chairperson of BSTU and several other union leaders addressed the demonstration calling for an end to the privatization policies of the Musharraf regime.
Several labour leaders and political activists attended the anti-privatization demonstration in Kot Addo. They expressed their solidarity with the workers of the Steel Mills and announced that they were with them in this fight.