Pakistan: Karachi Electric Supply workers struggle for nationalisation

Workers of Karachi Electric Supply Company have been waging a struggle for many months now. The corrupt management of the company have waged a war against these workers, supported by the government. At the same time, the people of Karachi continue to suffer from long power cuts and hike in electricity tariff on regular basis. Today on 24th May nearly 10,000 workers came to attend the sit in.

May_24_kesc-1The sit-in in front of Karachi Press Club and the hunger strike of KESC workers have been going on for more than 3 weeks now but Management have not agreed to the demands of the workers. Thousands of workers are present at the sit-in round the clock and many workers got hospitalised during hunger strike. Now the hunger strike has been called off after a promise of negotiations by the management but still the Workers are continuing their sit-in.

PTUDC is playing an important role in the struggle. In the previous struggle in January this year for the reinstatement of 4600 workers who were sacked by the Management, PTUDC played a key role. At that time also PTUDC representatives explained that the struggle will not cease after the reinstatement of these workers because the management will try to find other ways to get rid of them.

This is what actually happened in the following months when Management hired contract workers to do the jobs of the reinstated workers and shifted the latter to the surplus pool. Also many administrative measures were taken to sack workers on false charges which were made up by managers.

Against this onslaught of management, workers started their protest. Workers are now also demanding the Nationalisation of KESC under workers control. They argue that the policy of privatising KESC has failed, as it can’t provide electricity to the people of Karachi and the company can’t even repair the already installed infrastructure.

PTUDC comrades are supporting the workers of KESC and are speaking against the atrocities of management and government. They have also distributed a leaflet during the sit-in which was passed as a resolution by thousands of workers.

On May Day the sit in turned into a huge public meeting in which many leaders from other trade unions and the PPP in Karachi came to express solidarity with the workers. The President of PPP Karachi Najmi Alam, General Secretary PPP Karachi Saeed Ghani,

Khawaja Muhammad Awan, central General Secretary of Peoples Labour Bureau (labour wing of PPP) and others supported the Nationalisation of KESC. Comrade Riaz Hussain Lund Baloch, chairman of PTUDC, also supported the demands of KESC workers and said that Nationalisation under workers control is the only solution of the current crisis.

The speech of Comrade Paras Jan, central information secretary of PTUDC, enthused the workers and they appreciated his positions. Paras Jan first condemned the neo-facist MQM and said that they have called for a wheel jam strike on May Day which was done to sabotage the labour day. He also ciriticized their anti labour role. He then criticized the policy of reconciliation of the PPP and said that this policy is anti labour. He demanded from the leaders of the PPP that were present on the stage that they should end the coalition with PML(Q) and MQM immediately. He also demanded that if these leaders actually want KESC to be nationalised then they should pass a resolution from PPP Karachi condemning the statement of Prime minister Geelani in which he condemned Z.A. Bhutto;s policy of Nationalisation. He also condemned all former allies of Zia ul Haq who are now part of PPP government.

Though some leaders of the PPP were annoyed, the workers of KESC supported these positions. Since then PTUDC is playing a leading role in the whole struggle. President of PTUDC Karachi comrade Karamat who is also the Information Secretary of CBA union of KESC is playing a key role.

PTUDC has also asked for solidarity from other unions in this struggle of KESC workers and has formed Joint Action Committee in Karachi for this purpose.

Protests about the question have also been held in Hyderabad, Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Rawlakot and other cities. More protests are planned in Sadiqabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Sialkot and many cities of Sindh.

In Multan a protest in solidarity with KESC Workers was organised on 23 May. Comrades and trade unionists from different work places joined the protest and demanded that all the demands of KESC workers must be accepted and that KESC must be nationalised so that electric supply becomes a service for betterment not as a profit making commodity, otherwise bigger demonstrations will take place on national scale. The protest was attended by Comrade Dilawar (President workers rights commission of Pakistan) Comrade Aslam (Sui gas) , Comrade Nadeem Pasha (PTUDC), Comrade Jam Sajjad (PTUDC), Comrade Anam (PTUDC) , Comrade Mushtaq, Asif, Rauf, Ayub & Ghafoor ( Railways), Riaz Nasir(Postal) , Kashif (PTUDC) , Mazhar Khan & Shakeel (Union of Journalists) , Comrade Rawal (BNT) and Comrade Aurangzaib (PTUDC). Slogans Chanted by protesters were “Forward! Workers of KESC we are with you”, “An injury to one is an injury to all”, “Struggle till victory”, “Down with Capitalism” and “Long live Socialism”.

In Lahore a protest was held on 22nd May. The protest rally started from Saffan Walan chowk in Mazang and ended at Regal Chowk on Mall road. Many activists of PTUDC and trade unions attended the protest and blocked traffic on Mall road. Veteran Trade Unionist Amin Bhatti and leader of Unemployed Youth Movement Rashid Khalid addressed the protestors and said that until the nationalisation of KESC our protests will continue.

We appeal to workers of World to express solidarity with KESC workers in their struggle.

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