Marxist MPs shook the Parliament of Pakistan for the cause of Telecommunication workers

On October 12 Comrade Manzoor Ahmad and Qamar uz Zaman Kaira, Members of Parliament, submitted a notice in parliament calling attention to the situation of The workers of PTCL, who were on strike against privatisation of the company.

The workers of PTCL were on strike during the last few weeks. The Employees Union had won the referendum on privatization and submitted their charter of demands to management (see previous article: Pakistan Telecom Employees Union Suspended - We Shall Fight, We Shall Win). Rather than accepting the demands of the union the administration started indulging the office bearers and union into different cases and started harassing them and transferring them forcefully to far-flung areas. In reaction to this the union made the call for strike action.

On September 30, 2004 while addressing a workers’ meeting, the Secretary General of the PTCL Employees Union, Rana Mohammad Tahir, notified PTCL management that it should accept the demands of the workers within 14 days. If the demands were not met he warned the administration that strike action would begin October 4, 2004. Furthermore he added that if their demands were not to be accepted the workers would go on complete strike and would jam the whole communications system of the country on October 14.

On October 12 Comrade Manzoor Ahmad and Qamar uz Zaman Kaira, Members of Parliament, submitted a notice in parliament calling attention to this situation. Comrade Manzoor Ahmed said the government was forced to announce the regularization of 4,500 daily wages employees in the PTCL after their long protest. However, he said, instead of regularizing the services, the government began to victimize them by transferring them. He said that out of the 543 daily wage employees in Balochistan, only 32 had been regularized while the remaining were transferred to other sections to avoid regularization of their services. Similarly, there were reports that the PTCL was planning to sack some 646 daily wage employees in Karachi, he added.

He further said that the government had got a stay order from the high court on the plea that the elections were conducted by the National Industrial Relations Commission. The NIRC had only one member and no Supreme Court judge had been appointed there. "If only one judge is working in the NIRC, then it is the fault of the government," he said. Another Member of Parliament said the secretary should inform the house when new members of the NIRC are to be appointed. The parliamentary secretary said the appointment of NIRC members was the responsibility of the ministry of labour and manpower and that the telecommunications ministry had nothing to do with it.

On this, the PPP members protested and said it was the collective responsibility of the government and the secretary should make a clear statement. After this debate in the National Assembly management of the PTCL, during the talk with the union leadership, accepted all of their demands and requested them to call off the strike.

Mr. Saleem Chaudry (Regional President PTCL employees union) in a message to Chaudry Manzoor Ahmad said that Comrade Manzoor has proved that he is a real representative of the working class in parliament. He said that all the workers and the leadership of PTCL are grateful to Comrade Manzoor for his support. This victory of the PTCL employees would develop new courage in the workers of Pakistan and they will realize that one can fight and one can win too.

Report by

Abu Bakar, 13 October, 2004