Pakistan: one of the terrible ten worst countries for workers’ rights
Pakistani workers face large-scale exclusions from labour law, arrests and violence. Last year protests were held condemning the murder of eight labourers in Balochistan. Earlier this year, trainee police officers who had not been paid for seven months took to the streets before were subject to baton-charges and arrests.
Protesting police baton charged: On 19 March 2015, dozens of under-training Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) and head constables of the Sindh Police were subjected to baton charge and arrests after they protested outside the Central Police Office on II Chundrigar Road to demand payment of salaries pending for the past few months.
The officials, who had just completed seven-month-long training at the Police Training Centre (PTC) Saeedabad, claimed they had not been paid during this time and were now being ordered to report to the PTC Razzaqabad for elite courses. Irked at not being paid in more than half the year, the under-training ASIs and head constables resorted to demonstrating outside the Central Police Office causing a traffic jam on the city’s busiest street.
“We have been in training for the past seven months without salaries and despite that, between three and four thousand rupees are extorted from us every month as canteen charges,” said ASI Taufiq. “Now that we have completed the course, we are being asked to report to Razzaqabad for elite training where they will extort more money from us.”
Other protesting police officials said they were being sent on pointless training sessions by higher officials to avoid paying their salaries. As the demonstration progressed, four of the leading protesters were invited inside by the DIG Administration for negotiations. But when he failed to satisfy the representatives of protesting police officials, the demonstrators riled up and began chanting slogans.
When they failed to peacefully disperse the unpaid policemen, personnel of the city division police led by City SP Aftab Nizamani baton-charged them while around 20 of them were also taken into custody and shifted to different police stations. The city police personnel dragged the protesters into their vehicles, tearing their clothes, as the scuffle continued outside the main police office.
8 workers murdered: On 21 October 2014, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) protested outside the Karachi Press Club to condemn the murder of eight labourers in Balochistan and an attempt to harass veteran social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi. The protest was attended by industrial workers, political and social activists as well as students.
NTUF Sindh President Gul Rahman said: “The brutal murder of the labourers was an unpardonable act. The working class always stood for the democratic rights of oppressed nationalities and they had always resisted state terrorism in all its forms.”
Other speakers said attacks on labourers on the basis of race or sect had essentially been aimed at creating fissures in the working class movement and strengthening regressive forces. The speakers demanded security to be provided to political and nationalist forces of Balochistan and asked to quell attempts creating a ridge between the working class and nationalist forces in the province. They also demanded a compensation of Rs1 million to the families of the eight slain labourers and Rs500,000 for the injured.
Condemning the robbery at Edhi Home, the speakers said that Abdul sattar Edhi had served humanity irrespective of caste, creed, religion and ethnicity. If a personality like Edhi was not spared, then everybody else in the country was unsafe, they believed.
The Terrible Ten:
At the ILO conference earlier this month, the International Trade Union Confederation launched its 2015 Global Rights Index, detailing the ten worst countries for workers’ rights abuses in the world, and reporting in detail violations in those and many more. Stronger Unions is profiling one of the terrible ten each day.