The PTUDC in Britain has organised a speaking tour, which has been ongoing throughout January. The tour will involve meetings and discussions with leading figures and bodies of the labour movement, meetings with individual trade union branches, and regional public meetings to attract broader layers of workers and have some impact among Britain's large Asian community.
Lal Khan, PTUDC International Secretary, travelled to Britain at the beginning of January for a short tour of some of Britain's leading unions, including the TGWU International office, and GMB General Secretary, John Edmonds. These are two giants of the British labour movement, each with almost 1 million members. Both of these unions are keen to help with the campaign, they agreed to sponsor the PTUDC, requested further information on trade union struggles in Pakistan, and invited comrades along for further meetings in the next month.
John Edmonds from the GMB said: I have been delighted to have met Mr Lal Khan, and am looking forward to meeting Mr Manzoor Ahmed. I am very interested in the struggles that are taking place in Pakistan to try and assert the position of the workers, and to try and oppose the damaging and corrupting effects of the IMF programme which is leading to such cuts in public expenditure and such an increase in privatisation. I congratulate comrades in Pakistan on the victories that they have won and certainly offer the solidarity and support of the GMB. We will certainly do everything we can to support and help them in their campaign in the next few years.
The representative of the PTUDC spoke about the working conditions in Pakistan, the struggles of the Quetta workers (http://www.ptudc.org/News/quetta20020606.html), the role of the women in the trade unions (http://www.ptudc.org/News/women_in_unions.html) and the struggle against child labour.
Lal Khan also met with the General Secretary and national officers of banking and financial services union UNIFI, which organises a large chunk of the British finance industry, including Pakistani banks with offices in England. General Secretary Ed Sweeney was very enthusiastic and made a lot of very useful suggestions of avenues which the campaign can pursue in the future.
Among the most helpful of the trade unionists we met was Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, and long time supporter of the campaign, Lal Khan was able to meet with Jeremy for a discussion, and he spoke at various NUJ branch meetings which were very keen to give financial assistance and build links with the campaign, one of the branches actually put it on their agenda to discuss providing the money to sponsor a full time organiser for the PTUDC at their next meeting.
The campaign in Britain is continuing with a tour by Manzoor Ahmed, the recently elected Marxist PPP MP. Manzoor has a busy programme ahead of him. This will involve meetings with leading trade unionists from the NUJ NEC, ASLEF NEC and meetings with President and General Secretary, T&G (National Secretary agriculture & Ellesmere Port motor vehicles branch), NUT General Secretary (school teachers), NAHTFE Conference (university teachers).
A network of public meetings has also been organised throughout the country, the details are as follows:
Edinburgh: Sunday January 19, 1 PM. Communication Workers Union Social Club, 15 Brunswick Street, Edinburgh (off Leith Walk)
Bradford: Monday January 20, 7PM Bradford Resource Centre, 17-21 Chapel Street Bradford
Southampton: Tuesday January 21, 8PM.T&G Union Hall, 16/17 Inner Avenue, Southampton (entrance at rear via Methven Street)
Brighton: Wednesday January 22, 2 PM. Debating Chamber, Falmer House. Sussex University
Peterborough: Wednesday January 22, 7.30 PM John Player Theatre, Peterborough Library, Broadway, Peterborough Central (on the corner of Broadway and Fitzwilliam Street)
London: Friday January 24, 7.30 PM Fenner Brockway Room, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London (Nearest Tube: Holborn)Liverpool: Monday January 27, 7.30PM Casa Club, Hope Street, Liverpool