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WDF wants action committees to protect rights of workers

Karachi

May 21, 2020

To protest the rights of the working class during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Women Democratic Front has called upon the bodies of labourers, healthcare workers, peasants and small farmers, and left-leaning activists to form united fronts and action committees. “As the world battles against the COVID-19 pandemic, in Pakistan we are witnessing unprecedented developments with businesses laying off workers, frontline health workers being deprived of salaries, people facing the consequences of unemployment amid a lockdown where they are still expected to pay bills, rent and other necessary expenses,” said theWDF, a leftleaning women’s group, in a statement on Tuesday. The WDF said: “Women workers and daily- wagers are among the first ones to lose jobs.” Marvi Latifi, WDF Sindh president, said the government was paying lip service to the plight of workers and wilfully ignored the ground realities, whereas corporations and businesses continued to fire workers, slash salaries and strip them of their basic income and rights. “In a country like Pakistan where there are no safety nets or social security measures for workers in the private sector, this is tantamount to brewing a disaster with dire consequences for workers and their families,” she said. “The plight of dailywagers is in front of everyone where the two choices are given to them: they can either choose to die from the coronavirus or else face the consequences of hunger.” Aliya Bakhshal, WDF’s federal secretary-general, said that unfortunately, public health had never featured on the state’s agenda, and in fact it was privatised, so was the case for education. She said the current unfolding situation called for taking urgent action to immediately halt any job cuts, recalling those who had been laid off and giving timely and full salaries to workers, particularly front line healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and cleaners who had been bravely helping the nation fight off the pandemic. Aabida Ali, WDF secretary information, said pre-existing inequalities along the class and gender lines were present within the system where the rich were provided with bailout packages and tax breaks and the poor are being laid off with no safety nets. “Teachers, lawyers, media workers and many other workers affiliated with various institutions, companies, and offices are also suffering due to unpaid leaves and salary deduction.” Under the banner of the Workers Solidarity Committee, a recently formed national- wide front, the WDF, and other like-minded labour and left groups marked Workers Action Day by organising countrywide on Tuesday. In Sindh, the protests were organised in Karachi, Hyderabad, Naseerabad, Larkana, Qamber Shahdadkot, and other districts of Sindh. The WDF leaders also condemned the police firing on workers in the Korangi Industrial Area on Tuesday who were protesting against their dismissals and non-payment of wages. The plight of daily-wagers is in front of everyone where the two choices are given to them: they can either choose to die from the coronavirus or else face the consequences of hunger — Marvi Latifi, WDF Sindh president