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March 28, 2019

Port Qasim dock workers end protest camp after 185 days


March 28, 2019

Thursday (today) will be the 185th and final day of the protest camp of the Port Qasim dock workers outside the Karachi Press Club, as two MNAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have agreed to finalise their demands.

More than 1,700 dock workers — most of them elderly — had been at the protest camp since September last year. They had been demanding to resolve their issues, but the relevant authorities had been unable to find a solution to their problems.

Port Qasim Workers Union (CBA) President Akhlaq Ahmed Khan, who was leading the protest, confirmed the development: “It was not a big issue. We were just demanding our due rights as per the law. But due to the egos of the relevant authorities, hindrances were created instead of our sufferings being resolved.”

Khan said that almost all the protesting labourers hailed from Bajaur and had served at the port for over four decades, adding that when they went on strike, no one took an interest in listening to their grievances.

He said that after five months, the union leaders approached PTI MNA Gul Zafar Khan, who was elected in the 2018 general elections from Bajaur, and invited him to take up their issue with his party’s Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi.

“Our struggle finally bore fruit. Some of our demands have been agreed to. And the workers at the port would soon enjoy the same amenities as are provided by the government at the Karachi Port Trust [KPT].”

Late on Wednesday night, the port authorities accepted three of their demands: a 10 per cent increase in their salaries, implementation of the son quota and recognition of their status as labourers if the port authorities outsource their operations.

“The authorities concerned assured us that the rest of our demands will be met later, because the implementation of the 1974 Act is sub judice in the Sindh High Court,” said Hussain Badshah, the Port Qasim Workers Union’s general secretary.

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