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MULTAN: The May Day was commemorated with revolutionary passion and fervour by labourers, workers and political activists, who paid rich tributes to Chicago labourers for sacrificing their lives for a human cause.
However, no religious faction observed the day as no rally could be organised by any religious party. Thousands of Awami Workers Party activists, labourers from various trade unions Friday strongly rejected government’s privatisation campaign, saying the government was darkening the economy of the labour class in the name of privatisation and demanded immediate reversal of the plan.
The workers were shouting “Nijkaari Ka Jo Yaar Hai Ghadaar Hai Ghadaar Hai” (Advocates of privatisation are enemies of labourers). The AWP organised a big rally from Chowk Nawan Sher to Multan Press Club, which was led by South Punjab AWP President Farhat Abbas and AWP District President Saeed Sajid Awan, comrade Yamin, Syed Hassan Raza Bukhari, Shahid Mehmood Lodhi, Dilawar Abbas Siddiqui, and others. Various small and big rallies also joined the AWP’s main rally.
The Multan Union of Journalists held a seminar at Multan Press Club and paid rich tributes to labourers. The South Punjab Workers’ Federation activists took out a rally from the Chowk Fawwara and it culminated at Chowk Nawan Sher. The rally was led by labour leaders Musawar Naqvi, Muhammad Akram Bathi, Raza Hashmi, Chaudhry Ayub Sheikh, Mirza Nadeem and Salim Siddiqui.
The labour unions took part in the rally were ABL Labour Union, EMRI Labour Union, Railways Workers Union, Nishtar Paramedical Staff Union, Brick-kiln Workers, Home-Based Workers Union, Kissan Ittehad. The National Trade Union Federation Pakistan took out a rally from Chowk Dera Adda, which culminated at the Multan Press Club. The NTUFP office-bearers, Akhtar Awan, Malik Khuda Buksh Butha, Shah Wali Rajput and others led the rally.
The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party held a seminar in connection with the May Day and strongly condemned the financial exploitation by multinational companies. The CMKP office-bearers included Mehfooz Khan Shujaat, Nzir Chaudhry, Islam Raza, Akhtar Chohan, Adeeb Chohan, Sardar Muhammad Hussein Thaheem, Syed Sakhawat Hussain.
Speaking at the labour rallies, South Punjab AWP President Farhat Abbas denounced the privatisation bid and it was a conspiracy against the country. He called on the government to drop the proposal of privatisation, end corruption, unemployment, and energy crisis and raise the minimum wage level of every labourer, in accordance with ever-increasing prices of commodities.
Farhat Abbas said labourers in Pakistan are perhaps in a worse condition than the martyred labourers of Chicago of 1886.Unemployment, rising inflation, job insecurity, low wages, depressing poverty and inequality have all made the lives of common labourer unbearable. He said there was a need to start a campaign like that of Chicago’s workers to get their rights.
The unionists were highly critical of the legislators who remained aloof to the plight of hardworking labourers. “Someone who is born with a golden spoon in his mouth, sleeps in air-conditioned rooms, have an air-conditioned car and works in an air-conditioned office would definitely have no knowledge of the condition of labourers, who work in the scorching heat of the sun,” Farhat Abbas said.
Senior trade unionist Saeed Sajid Awan demanded that there should be separate legislators in the parliament exclusively representing the working classes. He also demanded formulation of a uniform labour policy for all workers.
He further said the government should enact labour laws, which should be in accordance with the International Labour Organisation conventions. Railway, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) local industrial workers, MDA Labour Union, Wasa Workers Union, power-looms workers rally was led by Muhammad Yousaf Ansari, Ghulam Mustafa Ansari, Muzammil, Abdul Hameed, Haji Shafiq. Hydro-Power Workers Union’s rally of 500 workers was led by Ghulam Rasul Gujjar, Malik Saeed Ahmed, Ch Khalid, Sajjad Baloch and Ikram Alvi. The Justice and Peace Commission rally was led by JP Commission’s Executive Secretary Hyacinth Peter.
MUZAFFARGARH: The May Day was observed on Friday as a protest day. The labour leaders noted that the problems of labourers were growing and justice was being denied and the privatisation of the state enterprises was underway. They lamented that no check on the bonded labour, child labour, and denial of minimum wages fixed by the government also continued.
In Muzaffargarh district, about a dozen rallies were held by the workers of the Workers Federation, Railway, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), local industrial workers and workers of political parties belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League, Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Communist Party (PCP), National Workers Party (NWP), Pakistan Seraiki Party (PSP), Qaumi Jamhoori Party (QJP), Muzaffargarh Union of Journalists (MUJ), Amnesty International (AI), Traqqi Pasand Organisation (TPO) and Pakistan National Textile and Garments and General Workers Federation (PNTGGWF).
However, no religious party took part in the rally. Mujahid Hussain Kazmi Advovacte, Workers Federation, stressed the need for streamlining the labour laws in line with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure that Pakistan continued to get benefit from the free-market access given by the European Union (EU) under the GSP Plus scheme for an initial period of three years. Nazim Baluch, Sanj Foundation, Shahana Abbas Shani, General Secretary, Civil Society Network, Saima Naz, Doaba Foundation, and Dr. Khalid Mehmood Zaffar Chaudhry, Union of Journalist, said that after the 18th Amendment the labour-related matters, including labour inspection laws, had become a provincial subject and it was necessary that all the provinces should have uniform labour laws which could meet the ILO conventions. Muzaffargarh Union of Journalist rally was led by Dr Khalid Mehmood Zaffar Chgaudhry, Nazir Ahmed Lashari, Prince Naeem Kashif Qureshi, Razwan Qureshi, and Prince Shahzad.
BAHAWALPUR: Several rallies were held in Bahawalpur division to observe the May Day and pay tributes to the martyrs of Chicago.
Rallies and meetings were held in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawal Nagar districts on Friday. In Bahawalpur, activists of All Pakistan Public Works Department union staged a rally outside the PWD office and its several participants were wearing dry rotis around their necks and raised slogans against price-hike and plight of workers. The participants marched on city roads and reached Farid gate.
In Rahim Yar Khan, workers of different labour unions staged a protest demonstration at Shahi Road and paid tributes to the martyrs of Chicago.
In Bahawal Nagar, labourers of Grain Market organised a meeting of local labourers in Ghalla Mandi ground and took out a rally. The participants were holding banners inscribed with slogans for workers.
LALAMUSA: A rally was staged from Municipal Committee Road Lalamusa on May 1:00 at noon on the world International Labour Day by the Ittehad Workers Union to memorialise the sacrifices of Chicago workers. The participants of the rally, including sanitation staff, TMA officers, and civil society members who were holding banners, started a march from the Municipal Committee Road. After passing through the Municipal Committee Road, the rally reached the Milad Chowk in front of Main Bazaar while chanting slogans in favour of labourers.
The rally was by addressed by the National Labour Federation’s district Gujrat President, Ihasan Ullah Warraich, former Nazim Choudhary Irfan Ahmed Safi, and CO Mirza Musharaf Baig .The speakers said the labourers, who were a backbone of the economy of the country, were deprived of their rights. They asked the rulers to increase their wages and due facilities. Later, the participants of the rally dispersed peacefully. Another rally was held by kiln workers which marched from Gunja More to Thekarian. The rally was led by kiln labour union leader Muhammad Hussain Wattoo.
TOBA TEK SINGH: Dozens of rallies of trade unions and political parties were staged across the district to observe the May Day and highlight demands of workers.
The Awami Workers Party, the Textile Powerloom and Garments Workers Union, Punjab, took out a rally from Waryam Road upto Chowk Sadar Bazaar.
On the occasion AWP secretary general Farooq Tariq paid rich tributes to the martyrs of Chicago. He said it was unfortunate that Pakistani workers were still forced to work long hours. Tariq demanded the government stop process of privatisation of major public sector institutions and fix a minimum wage of Rs 25,000 per month for unskilled workers against eight hours work. PML-N MPA Mian Muhammad Rafique, Akhtar Abbas, Nadeem Asharaf Jogi, AWP Punjab labour secretary Ms Nazli Javed, Naseem Akhtar and district AWP president Chaudhry Muhammad Zubair also spoke. PTI and Insaf rickshaw union rally was led by ex-district nazim Chaudhry Muhammad Ashfaq. The rally of the National Liberation Federation was led by Majeed Salik and Maulana Shamsuzzaman Qadri. The Human Development Society arranged a seminar on the occasion. The seminar was addressed by HDS deputy director Ms Rafia Ashfaq, PML-N MPAs Mian Rafique and Amjad Javed, Rashid Jalal, Klement Kemey, Engineer Razaq and other labourer leaders. They demanded establishment of a social security office at Toba Tek Singh, issuance of social security cards to workers and payment of Rs 888 per 1,000 bricks to kiln workers.
HAFIZABAD: A large number of labourers staged a rally on the International Labour Day. The rally was led by Muhammad Zaman Ansari, President Power-looms Labour Union. The rally was started from Mohallah Mian Da Kot and ended at the Fawara Chowk.
The labourers also staged a demonstration along with donkeys and took out a Jinaza procession of the rulers for increasing prices and loadshedding. Addressing the participants of the demonstration, Muhammad Zaman Ansari said the present government had failed to solve the problems of labourers due to which labourers had been forced to commit suicides. He further said that a large number of factories had been closed due to loadshedding as a result of which thousands of labourers had become jobless. He demanded the high-ups that free medical treatment facility should be provided to all the labourers of the country.
NANKANA SAHIB: The Labour Department Nankana held a seminar on the International Labour Day at the District Council Hall on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion, speakers said that Chicago incident encouraged the workers to fight for their rights. They said that a labour colony would be constructed for labourers in Warbutton which would house 763 flats and the ownership rights would also be given to them. It was announced to give three lac rupees to a labourer for the marriage of his daughter by the Labour Department.
KASUR: Different organisations Friday arranged rallies to pay tributes to the martyrs of Chicago.
Workers of National Labour Federation, Ittihad Power Loom Works, Bhatta Mazdoor Union, Rickshaw Union, the PPP Labour Wing and other bodies hold meetings and staged rallies. The rallies were taken out from Baldia chowk and Shahbaz road and the participants marched on Bulleh Shah road and Circular road. They raised slogans in favour of workers. Slogans were also chanted against power loadshedding.