Report by Sadaf Zahra and Aamir Raza for the PTUDC, Pakistan, February 2003.
More than 18,000 employees work in the postal services of Pakistan. The national organization of the postal employees’ union, the CBA. is the main representative of the Pakistani postal employees. In this modern era of science and technology, however, the Pakistani government is completely incapable of establishing a postal service along modern lines. For this reason it is lagging far behind the standards of what should be a modern communication system. It is in fact almost 100 years old. And because of this postal employees are living in great poverty.
After the Musharraf dictatorship came to power, the political and economic exploitation of the postal employees increased. The Musharraf dictatorship appointed a retired army officer as the chairman of the Pakistani postal services. Since this recent director general took charge unconstitutionally (on a contract basis), the attacks on the rights of the postal workers have increased enormously in order to strengthen the position of the corrupt managers.
Initially actions were taken against the CBA by using their illegitimate authority. This was especially the case with Musharraf’s presidential ordinance, which were used in 2000-2001 to impose restrictions on any union activity. In this regard the director has issued a circular to management stating that any employee who takes part in any union activity will be prosecuted accordingly and will possibly be fired from his job. At the same time another circular was issued, forbidding clerical staff from taking part in union activities, in order to weaken the postal employees’ union. This, in spite of that fact that in accordance with IRO 1969 and international laws, postal employees from grade 1 to grade 9 are allowed to take part in union activities.
At the same time as all these measures have been taken a vigilance cell has been established with the help of army. It is responsible for monitoring all union activities, and giving reports if anyone is found guilty of union activity. Thus, whenever a report has been given by this vigilance cell prompt actions have taken. More than one hundred employees were fired from their jobs on the basis of reports of the vigilance cell.
The military government has explained the appointment of an army officer as chief of the post office as a step towards cutting the deficit. But this is the biggest lie one can ever utter, because this appointment is merely a measure to oblige the army chiefs. At this moment retired army director, general Agha Masood al Hassan, is being paid 175000 rupees for his services, But obviously this is not enough for him, as he has now been accused of corruption on a big scale. The accusations range from “unnecessary international tours, TADA, taking funds in the name of the post foundation, to taking commissions in the name of computer expenses, etc. And for these reasons instead of cutting the deficit of the post office these have increased.
This director is firing employees in order to minimize the deficit and is curtailing all the rights of postal employees. Measures of state oppression against the postal employees have gone as far as the use of torture! As a result of this a postal worker from Lahore recently committed suicide. At the same time the director general has fired all those who have fought for the rights of the workers and against all anti-working class policies. The Director General has not only backed all these corrupt officers, but he has also given protection to them, while at the same time he has not kept on any sincere, honest and right man at all. A clear example can be quoted from Baluchistan, where the provincial president and the president of the Khuzdar division, comrade Nazar Mengal, and the chairman of the Khuzdar GPO, Mohammed Baksh Sasoli, were forcefully retired. They were accused of fighting against the oppression of the director general and for the common rights of postal workers and the daily wage workers. More than hundred workers were fired from their jobs.
The workers in the post office do not get any benefits from the post office, not even health, education etc. Postal workers and their children are living in great poverty because their wages are extremely low. The workers work day and night and are not paid accordingly, which has resulted in mental depression for many of them, because they cannot see any hope for the future.
The postal workers have appealed to the so called “democratic government” to remove that cruel dictatorial army officer from his position as chief of the postal services and save workers from oppression. Jamali has tried formally to remove him, but Musharraf stepped in to stop this. Hence the workers in the Pakistan post office are appealing to all international workers’ organizations, trade unions and associations to organize a world wide campaign to force the Pakistani state to remove retired army director general Agha Masood al Hassan, and save the postal workers from any further oppression, and remove all restrictions on unions activities, so they can fight for their just rights.
Also find out where the Pakistani embassy is in your country http://www.forisb.org/pakmissions.html and send them a copy as well.
Report by Sadaf Zahra and Aamir Raza,
For the PTUDC,
Pakistan, February 2003