ISLAMABAD:(APS) May 23: State Minister for Capital Administration and Development (CAD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry has assured workers and labourers that the government will accept all their genuine demands and hoped that many of them would be met in the forthcoming budget.
He held out this assurance while speaking at a huge gathering of thousands of workers and labourers organized by the Pakistan Mazdoor Action Committee, an alliance of all the workers union of the federal capital, outside the National Press Club in Islamabad.
The gathering was the first show of strength by the workers of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, who have decided to wage a joint struggle for the rights of the working classes.
It was organized days before the announcement of the national budget by the federal government. The main demands of the Action Committee include fixing of minimum wage at Rs 20,000/- per month, an end to contract system and out-sourcing of labour and an end to privatization.
Thousands of workers started gathering outside the National Press Club since 9.00 a.m. to attend the camp show their commitment to the workers cause.
Soon after the speakers started making speeches, a call was received from the Finance Minister who agreed to meet a representative delegation of workers to discuss their demands. The delegation which met the minister was led by Secretary General of All Pakistan Workers Federation Khursheed Ahmad Khan and included PFUJ President Afzal Butt, CDA Employees Union Secretary General Chaudhry Yaseen, Chairman of Akhbarfarosh Federation Tikka Khan and representatives of various trade unions.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar met the leaders at this office and because of his pressing pre-budget engagements and meetings formed a two-member committee headed by CAD State Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry to hold detailed consultations and meetings with the All Pakistan Mazdoor Ittehad Action Committee so that their maximum demands could be met when the budget is announced.
The CAD Minister also held a detailed meeting with the delegation and later arrived at the labourers gathering to assure them that their demands would be given due weightage in the budget. He assured the workers that he would personally take up these issues with the Finance Minister as well as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resolve them according to satisfaction of the Mazdoor Ittehad Action Committee.
The Minister said that since he belongs to the federal capital, it was more important for him to ensure that the genuine demands of this city’s workers are met.”I have to place myself for accountability before you during the next elections hence be assured that I will do my utmost to resolve all of your issues,” he said.
Secretary General of All Pakistan Workers Confederation Khursheed Ahmad Khan lauded the efforts of PFUJ in bringing various trade unions on one platform for achieving the rights of the workers. He said that privatization was unacceptable and the government should halt the process of selling state-run enterprises. He said the trade unions have joined hands by shunning their differences and standing above their group differences.
Another leader of All Pakistan Workers Confederation Zahoor Awan said government’s plan to sell the state-enterprises will be resisted tooth and nail. “We will not allow you to financially slaughter the workers.”
Senior Journalist and anchorperson Hamid Mir speaking at the occasion said the journalists had always stood for the cause of the working classes and they will continue to support their struggle in future as well. Referring to the presence of CAD Minister at the labour gathering, he said it was a good omen that a minister has come here to take the ownership of this gathering. “I can notice that the workers are awakening to protect their rights,” he said adding “The government needs to solve their problems on an urgent basis.”
CDA Employees Union Secretary General Chaudhry Yaseen speaking on the occasion warned the government to stop the ‘re-structuring’ of CDA otherwise the employees would jam the federal capital.
Secretary General of State Bank CBA Union that out-sourcing of workers in the government and private enterprises was one of the worst oppressive systems, which was against the rights given to workers under the constitution. He said instead of out-sourcing, the government should fill in the vacancies of all clerical and non-clerical staff on permanent basis.
Tikka Khan lauded the unity of the workers and said if they continue to exhibit the same spirit and struggle unitedly, the day was not far when they will achieve their rights.
PFUJ President Afzal Butt said today’s gathering was the first step towards the achievement of rights for the workers. “We have just launched the struggle and we have to go a long way to achieve our rights.”
Central President of Peoples Unity PIA Hidayatullah Khan and Ramzan Leghari lashed out at the government for trying to sell a state-asset at throw away price to its own cronies. He said the workers had thwarted government’s attempt to sell PIA-owned Roosvelt Hotel in New York at throw-away price. “We will not allow you to privatise PIA at any cost,” he said. Mr Leghari said that the recent recovery of heroin from PIA aircraft in London was also a conspiracy hatched by those who want to sell this national asset and called upon the government to set up a JIT which should probe the entire incident.
One of the speaker severely criticized PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz for refusing to allow the workers of Gun Club, Islamabad, where he is working as an administrator, to join their duties in spite of the orders of the high court. He said the action committee should take up this issue as a ruling party MNA was refusing to accept the court orders.
Others who addressed the gathering include State Bank Democratic Workers Union Central President Liaquat Sahi, Shafqat Warraich; President of Insaf Workers Union Islamuddin, Central Vice-President of All Pakistan Clerks Association Shahzad Manzoor Kiyani; Central Joint Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign Dr Changez Malik; RIUJ General Secretary Ali Raza Alvi; Punjab President of Awami Workers Party Dr Asim Sajjad; General Secretary of ZTBL Union Iqbal Khattak; Central President of Punjab Teachers Association Dr Imtiaz Abbassi; Chairman Wapda Hydro Union Iesco Javed Iqbal Baluch; President of SME Bank Union Liaquat Ali and general secretary Chaudhry Banaras; General Secretary of Sports Board Union Akram Bhatti; Deputy General Secretary of Awami Workers Party Ms Asmat Shahjehan and Aliya Amir Ali; RIUJ Acting President Nasir Hashmi, General Secretary of Civil Aviation Union Khalid Araeen; Central Secretary general of All Pakistan Para-Staff Medical Association Arshad Khan; President of Non-Gazatted Staff Union of PIMS Tariq Virk; All Pakistan Workers Confederation Leader Muhmmad Akram Bunda and PWD Union’s Additional General Secretary Muhammad Siddiq Awan,.