Workers’ Relief Committee continues vital emergency work

Solidarity donations urgently needed. The Workers’ Relief Committee (WRC) has so far provided assistance to more than 300 families across the country – mainly food, tents and medicines for the affected people and especially workers. It has spent more than £4,000 on this work: £2,400 has been raised through collections in Pakistan and £1,600 is the initial payment from the international solidarity campaign organised through the TURCP.

We have been able to distribute cooking oil, soap, lentils, wheat flour, rice, cooking pots, sugar, clothes, baby milk, packed milk, drinking water and tents. The WRC itself collected food items and other material through its relief campaign. We had to send £600 cash to the affected people in Kharan district in Baluchistan province, as it is not possible to get food items to this remote area. The Committee is mainly trying to fulfil demands coming from workers, trade union activists and different workers’ organisations. The top priority has been given to the areas where no relief is provided by the government and NGOs.

Targeted areas
It is not possible to reach all parts of the country because of logistics since the flood and also because we have limited resources. In this situation, the WRC has decided to focus on some particular areas to provide help. These are:- Nowshera district and the Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, Muzafar Garh, Rajan Pur, Mianwali and Layyah districts in Punjab province, Kharan in Baluchistan and Dadu, Shikarpur and Larkana districts in Sindh.

The Workers’ Relief Committee was among the first organisations that sent relief goods to the Swat Valley. Some places in these districts are still inaccessible by road links. There are people in these areas who are still without any relief and facing starvation. Yesterday, the WRC received requests from Jatoi and Alipur areas of Muzafar Garh, where people, including children, are still without food and shelter up until now. It is a big challenge for us to reach out to these areas and provide food and tents to as many as possible. We have organised district committees of the Workers’ Relief Campaign to carry out the relief work in an organised and transparent manner. These committees have so far been set up in Muzafar Garh, Nowshera, Kharan, Rajan Pur, Dadu and Mianwali districts. The formation of committees in the other districts is under way.

More help needed
Requests for food and other items have been received from various unions, as their members have been affected. We immediately need to provide food and shelter to more than another 200 marooned families in different areas. The Committee immediately needs £6,000 to be able to continue to provide food and other daily-use items for starving families. Children especially need milk and medicines on an emergency basis. Already many children have started to die from starvation and water-borne diseases. The government has failed to provide food, medicines and shelters for these people, but we cannot afford to fail. Desperate people are contacting us as a last hope to get relief.

What is the WRC
The Workers’ Relief Committee is an initiative of the Trade Union Rights Campaign (TURCP) and Progressive Workers’ Federation of Pakistan (PWFP) to organise the relief work on a national level. Its aim is to involve different trade unions, community-based organisations and social movements to coordinate local relief work with the national.

We bring together these organizations:- Swair Women’s Organisation, the Progressive Workers’ Federation, the Labour Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Telecom Employees’ Union, the General and Commercial Workers’ Union (GCU), the Campaign to Stop Domestic Violence against Women, the “Aims” organisation, an Informal Sector workers’ organisation, Agriculture workers’ organisation, Trade Union Rights Campaign and the Socialist Movement Pakistan.

There is a seven-member elected coordination committee to run the WRC. All the decisions are made in the meetings of this coordination committee.

Khalid Bhatti, National Coordinator WRC, National organiser of TURCP