Pakistan: Telecom Workers protesting amid brutal repression by management and state

The workers of PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation Limited) have been protesting and staging a sit-in at PTCL Headquarter, Islamabad, for the last 12 days on the issue of the fulfillment of the commitments made to them by the management. Their protest has been brutally supressed by the state and management.

The charter of demands presented by the workers to the management consisted of 5 demands:

  1. Increase of 20% in the salaries as announced by the Govt. of Pakistan in Budget 2009
  2. Convenience allowance
  3. Eid Allowance
  4. Rest and Recreation Allowance
  5. Upgradations

PTUDC (Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign) was actively participating and supporting the charter of demands. The comrades from PTUDC were also demanding the cancellation of privatization of PTCL which is the basic reason for all these issues. Comrade Jam Sajjad (Secretary General of PTUDC South Punjab)and a leader of PTCL in Multan were at the forefront during these protests and the sit-in along with Malik Maqbool President of Lines Unity a union of PTCL workers. The management used measures to stop the protests such as stopping the salaries of the protesters, but the workers resolve remained unshaken by the cowardly tactics of the management.

Sensing defeat, the management in collaboration with the State authorities attacked the workers on the night between 30th and 31st August. Police along with Rangers (a paramilitary force) charged the unarmed workers with batons. According to Umar Farooq (Member Action committee) as a result of this brutal torture one worker lost his life and 4 were seriously injured. The administration is denying that any workers was killed but is also not handing over the injured workers or giving allowing them to be contacted. Around 300 workers were arrested and false criminal cases have been brought against them under the anti-terrorism act. Comrade Jam Sajjad and Malik Maqbool were also arrested. With the collaboration of the authorities, the management has kept the whereabouts of the injured and the body of the dead worker secret.

As the news of this state terrorism reached far and across the country, workers of PTCL in large numbers have converged at PTCL Headquarter Islamabad and started a demonstration against the management and state brutality. They are demanding the release of the arrested workers, knowledge of the whereabouts of the injured workers and the handing over of the body of the killed worker. Strikes and demonstrations have also followed in numerous cities and towns across the country to show solidarity with the workers of PTCL at the Headquarter. A partial Strike was observed in almost all the exchanges and offices of PTCL across the country.

PTUDC strongly condemns this brutal act of terrorism by the state and the PTCL management. Numerous press releases and condemnation statements have been issued by the comrades of PTUDC all over Pakistan. PTUDC has put forward the following demands:

  • Hand over of the kidnapped workers or their bodies if they have been killed
  • Immediate release of all the arrested workers
  • Present all the injured workers
  • Withdraw all false criminal cases against the workers
  • Bring a criminal case against the PTCL management with the charge of murder and torture of the workers
  • Fulfill of the charter of demands of PTCL workers
  • Cancel the Privatization of PTCL.
  • Hand over the PTCL to democratic control of the workers

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