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Workers of the world unite – No to PTCL Privatisation

Leaflet from the Pakistani Trade Union Rights Campaign

Keep struggling until victory!

Long live workers revolution, long live workers’ internationalism, and long live workers unity!

Stop the massacre of 30000 jobs!

The sword of privatisation is once again hanging over the heads of 60 000 telecom workers in Pakistan. The government wants to sell this public sector company (which earns the government R29 billion profit every year) at a throw away price. Thirty thousand jobs are under threat. Some multinational companies and local capitalists want to buy this company to get this huge profit into their pockets. They want to steal this hen which regularly lays a golden egg.

However, the privatisation of PTCL is not in the interests of the workers and masses. The whole process of privatisation in Pakistan has already shown that it will only benefit the ruling elite and rich.

Privatisation gave a free hand to the bosses for super exploitation of workers and the plundering of state assets. The privatisation process in Pakistan was started by the PPP government in 1989 on the dictates of IMF and World Bank. This was part of the overall programme of neo liberal economic policies of the “free market economy” imposed by IMF and World Bank.

The last ten years of privatisation has exposed all the false promises made by the ruling class to working class people in Pakistan. The dreams of prosperity, better jobs, decent wages and improved working conditions have been turned into the nightmare of increased poverty, unemployment, price hike and terrible working conditions. The so-called golden decade of privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation of the economy has made the life of the working class miserable. The privatisation of sugar, cement, fertilizer, cooking oil and chemical industries resulted in prices of goods produced in these industries going up in some cases by more than 400%. The majority of working class people can no longer afford many of these products.

The Government made promises that privatisation would lower prices and improve the quality of goods and services, unemployment would decrease and new industries would be established. But the opposite happened. Unemployment went up from 5% to 11% according to official figures, but the actual numbers are far higher. The percentage of people living under the poverty line in Pakistan during the period of privatisation has increased from 22% in 1990 to 50% in 2004.

Nearly one million workers have lost their jobs. More than 7000 factories have been closed down. Big cuts have been made on conditions and wages. Most of the permanent jobs have been converted into contract and casual jobs with very low pay. Trade union rights and activities have been severely curtailed. Most of the unions in the privatised industries and corporations have been turned into management controlled or “pocket” unions. Working hours have generally been increased from 8 hours 12 hours a day. No health care, education, transport, social security and other basic facilities are available to the workers after privatisation – whereas prior to this some benefits were available in the state sector.

Privatisation means poverty, unemployment, worse conditions, low wages, increased working hours, super exploitation, price hikes and falling living standards. The government want to repeat all these things in PTCL. Apart from the job losses after the privatisation, there will be more attacks on working conditions and facilities enjoyed at present by telecom workers. At the moment they are comparatively well-paid workers, but they will become low paid after privatisation and they will also lose job security.

PTCL provides cheap phone services all over the country, which also includes rural areas. PTCL subsidises this service to the rural areas (which contains the majority of the population in Pakistan), because it is not profitable. But no private company will do this, because they only provide services or produce goods for profit.

Privatisation is a complete failure in Pakistan and also internationally, but present the present regime still want to continue with this failed policy.

In these circumstances, it is essential to resist against this policy. The struggle launched by the PTCL Trade Union Action Committee is a very important step in that direction. The resilience shown by the workers so far has proved again that workers want to fight against privatisation and other anti-worker policies of the management.

However, the union leaderships should not betray the workers this time. They should not call off the strike and protest movement just on the basis of a few false assurances, like they have done in the past. They should continue the struggle until the government and management clearly withdraw the privatisation plan and accept other union demands. Now the management will try to split the movement, because they are afraid of the unity already shown in the workforce. It is very important for the workers to continue their united struggle. Every attempt to split the workers must be fought against. The PTURC fully supports the just and peaceful struggle of PTCL workers. This struggle is very important not only for PTCL workers but also for the trade union movement in general. A victory in this struggle will give new confidence and courage to other trade unionists in Pakistan. This victory can become a revival point for the trade union movement and the beginning of a new phase of struggle.

The Pakistan Trade Union Rights Campaign appeals to all the trade unions, federations, socialist and left organisations to support this struggle and show their practical solidarity. We urge all trade unions and movements fighting against privatisation and other issues to form a united campaign to defeat the privatisation, neo-liberalism, anti-labour laws and free market economic policies.

Stop the privatisation of PTCL and transform it into a company under the democratic control and management of the workforce.

Accept all the demands of the Trade Union Action Committee, including company pay scale, bonus, promotions etc.

Fully implement the agreements signed between unions and management.

Abolish IRO 2002, labour policy 2002 , removal from service ordinance 2000-1 and all other anti-worker and union laws and policies.

Cancel all the anti-working class agreements with IMF and World Bank and other international imperialist institutions.

No to the WTO and imperialist globalisation! Down with capitalism and imperialism! Long live Socialism. Down with the free market economy – for a democratic planned economy

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