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Telecom Trade Union leaders taken into custody for five hours

In an extremely serious turn of events the General Secretary of the Lines Staff Union, Malik Maqbool Hussein, and two of the union national office bearers were taken into custody by military intelligence, it is rumoured, for five hours.

This follows the all-out strike by telecommunications workers against privatisation and in support of better pay and conditions in Pakistan Telecommunications Ltd (PTCL). These arrests raise the possibility of the army and police moving in to crush the strike brutally and making wide-ranging arrests of trade union activists in the near future. The trade union leaders were released after pressure was brought to bear on the government by other Pakistani trade unions

In negotiations between management and the nine–union strong action committee yesterday, big concessions were offered by PTCL management but only on condition that the union leaders sign a “no objection agreement” to the idea of privatisation. This is because no company wants to bid for shares in PTCL if there is a danger of strike action. And if privatisation is defeated in PTCL then the whole $1.7 billion privatisation programme of the government is under threat.

The military dictator Musharraf – a nuclear armed ally of George Bush – is intent on crushing workers’ living standards and allowing national and international speculators and capitalists to extract super-profits out of the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is what George Bush and his international allies mean when they talk about bringing “democracy” to the rest of the world.

It is vital that the government authorities and PTCL management are flooded with protests at these arrests.

Please send protests demanding:
– the immediate release of all trade union leaders,
– no further repressive action to be taken, and
– an end to the privatisation of PTCL

Send to:
Junaid Khan, President PTCL, president@ptcl.com.pk
M.Shahzad Sadan, Senior Vice President PTCL, sevphr@ptcl.com.pk
Awais Leghari Minister Telecom and Information Technology, minister@moitt.gov.pk and aleghari@moitt.gov.pk

Please send copies to:
cwi@worldsoc.co.uk and
turcpakistan@yahoo.com

Please also send solidarity letters supporting the strike to:
turcpakistan@yahoo.com
with copies to cwi@worldsoc.co.uk

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