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January 11, 2019

Rally held in support of protesting Port Qasim dock workers


January 11, 2019

Trade unionists, labour rights organisations and activists held a protest rally from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club on Thursday in support of the dockworkers of Port Qasim who have been on strike for the past three months, demanding their rights.

Along with the hundreds of protesting workers, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research Director Karamat Ali, National Trade Union Federation General Secretary Nasir Mansoor, veteran trade union leader Habibuddin Junaidi and Port Workers’ Union General Secretary Hussain Badshah marched on the streets against the high-handedness of port authorities and a foreign company.

Addressing the gathering, Badshah announced a protest sit-in outside Parliament House in Islamabad this month, for which hundreds of workers would leave from Karachi soon. “Even though we have been protesting for the past 109 days, the concerned authorities are not ready to pay attention to our miseries,” he said. “Hence, we are now compelled to go to Islamabad and initiate a sit-in camp in front of Parliament House”.

Piler Director Karamat Ali asked the government to accept the demands of the protesting dockworkers. “These workers have spent their lives to make the port functional, but unfortunately, no one from the Ministry for Maritime Affairs bothered to visit the sit-in camp of dockworkers and hear them out,” he said.

Ali added that federal government has to heed the demands of protesting workers without any delay. As per law, every citizen has the legitimate right to hold a peaceful protest against injustices. Therefore, all trade unions and labour support organisations are supporting the struggle of Port Qasim workers, he said.

NTUF General Secretary Nasir Mansoor declared that workers from across the country will join the protest of the port workers, and a large number of them would also accompany them in Islamabad for the sit-in camp. “If genuine demands of the working class are not addressed then the situation will lead the concerned authorities towards direct confrontation with labourers, which will create unrest that is not good for the country,” he said. “The best way is to resolve issues by initiating talks with workers.”

Liaquat Sahi of State Bank Union assured the rally that he and his federation stand in support of workers and would stand with them in all circumstances. Fahim Sidiqui of Karachi Union of Journalists also assured support from media workers and demanded the government to immediately resolve the issue.

Speaking to The News, Badshah said that the workers’ union of Port Qasim is demanding the provision of all the labour rights under the country’s laws. “The dockworkers are deprived of their salaries, while private (Chinese) companies were not ready to accept the rights of dockworkers who have been working at two berths (3 and 4).”

Meanwhile, officials of the Sindh Labour and Human Resource Department have called a meeting for Friday (today) at the Directorate of Labour with the protesting workers of Port Qasim. According to Badshah, the provincial labour department is going to table face-to-face talks between the protesting workers and the authorities of the Chinese companies.

“Our CBA is registered from Sindh government, therefore, the provincial labour department can intervene in the matter but its officials can’t resolve our problems until they take on board the authorities of the Ministry for Maritime Affairs,” he said.

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