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                                          Updates

28\05\2009

Niaz Khan, the leader of carpet workers union, was produced in Lahore High Court, hand cuffed with a contingent of police on 27 May.
 
Two other union leaders of Inter Wood were also brought there.
 
Niaz khan is framed in a robbery case that took place in 2006, he is not even nominated in the case. This is the worst sort of police tactics against ordinary people.
The only crime is to help the Inter Wood furniture factory workers to form a trade union.
 
At the court, the judge heard the arguments of Rabia Bajwa but did not agree them to release them on bail. He did not notice the torture of these leaders. He was a PCO judge. He tried to shut me up, when as petitioner, I told him that Niaz Khan is not an unknown leader, even the minister of Labour in Punjab is in court to show solidarity with labour leaders framed in robbery and so on. The judge told me in angry tone, that I am trying to influence him through the minister. I had to be quit on this. I did not want any further argument on this as it was clear that the judge has made up his mind not to release the leaders.
 
While we were outside the court discussing the future tactics, a massive blast shook every one. There was a panic. We saw the clouds from the Mall road side. The glasses of nearby buildings were shattered even here.
 
While the CID was busy rounding up the trade union leaders, the religious fanatics were able to make another effort to bomb the main police station of Lahore, killing over 26.
 
Later police produced Niaz at a magistrate and he gave the police three days of physical remand.
 
When the other two were produced to another magistrate, he refused to listen to police story and said these are bogus allegations. Workers has a right of assemble and it is just victimisation.
 
The magistrate asked the police to release the two union leaders on the spot. He dismissed the police case. This was a great victory. The other 9 union leaders who were not arrested yet in the same case will have now the benefit of this ruling.
 
Later, in the evening, the labour minister visited Niaz Khan at police station. But what a tragedy? A minister is unable to force the police to withdraw a false case. But he is trying his best, we believe.
 
We postponed our rally in Lahore after blast. We had made all arrangements, over 1000 workers were expected but we could not have a demo at a time where are bodies of police men nearby.
 
The rally will be organized in few days.

 

27\05\2009

Niaz Khan is one of the most honest trade union leader, I have ever met. He is general secretary Ittehad Union carpet industries Pakistan. Last night, while I was writing a mail about the arrest of some trade union leaders at 12pm, he was picked up by Central Intelligence Department (CID) official from his home.
 
This morning, Daud Khan came to my home to break the news.
 
I immediately contacted the National Committee member of Labour Party Pakistan. Niaz Khan is a founder member of LPP since 1997. It was agreed to fight back.
 
We sent sms to all LPP active members around the country telling about the arrests and demanding to do something. There are over 500 in our this sms list. They are regularly informed by this about the activities of LPP. We found this very effective mean of communication and consultation. It is much more effective than email.
 
We sent another sms to all LPP contacts and also to a list of journalists. They were informed of the arrests.
 
The police has arrested our leaders to break the back of the trade union movement. Their strategy was to use suppression of police to break the will of the workers to change the system. They bribed the police to arrest. 11 leaders of InterWood newly formed union were charged by police in false allegations of Harrissing the factory owner.
 
Niaz Khan was just picked up and we did not know about his where abouts. The first priority was to find him. A police constable called a comrade to break the news that CID police at Model Town Lahore has picked him. We sent Niaz brother to the police station but they refused to let him enter the police station and told him that he is not here.
 
We had called an urgent meeting at 11am of all the main leaders of trade unions who are member of LPP to chart out a strategy. Over 30 turned up including the leaders of Women Workers Help Line. After an hour of discussion, it was agreed to call a press conference today at 4pm, to launch a habeaus corpus appeal at Lahore High Court, to call a nationwide day of action against the attacks on trade unions on Wednesday 27 May.
 
I called our advocate Rabia Bajwa to file the appeal at LHC. Committees were formed to mobilize the activists at Lahore rally, to start from Regal Chouck to Chief Minister House on 27 May 4pm. A target of 1000 was set for mobilization.
 
Leading LPP comrades were called around the country to organize similar activities. They agreed.
 
It was decided that National Trade Union Federation will organize the day of action.
 
At Lahore High Court, as petitioner, I had to sign documents and bring my identity card. Rabia Bajwa has written a good petition. We nominated Intelligence police chief as responsible for arrests. We prayed that LHC send ballifs to two places to recover the kidnapped leaders.
 
At 2pm, a high court judge Zafar Iqbal Choudry heard the case and after arguments, he ordered to send two ballifs. It was our first victory. it was nearly 3.30pm and at 4pm, I had to speak at a press conference along Yousaf Baluch chairman NTUF and Azra Shad chairperson WWHL. We left two comrades here at the court to deposit Rupees 5000 as guarantee and make other arrangement for Ballifs.
 
At Lahore Press Club, over 40 comrades had gathered. Almost all the main television channels were covering the event. The room was full to capacity. We announced the plan of fight back, a strike of carpet workers in Lahore on 27 May, a complete strike of textile workers in Faisalabad on 28 May and nationwide demos on 27 May. The press was sympathetic and heard us in appreciation and sympathy.
 
I was called at Lahore High Court again to go along with the ballifs. It was nearly 6pm when we left for Model Town police center. As we arrived inside, I saw Niaz Khan sitting with other prisoners in a state of shock and disbelief. I shouted to ballif, a lawyer appointed by LHC, "he is here, I saw him". Niaz Khan was asked to meet us, as he arrived, I immediately noticed that he is beaten up. I asked him if police has beaten him, he could not speak properly and told us that whole night, he is been subject to police beatings. Also this afternoon he was again thrashed by police.
 
We found out that he is been charged of a robbery that took place in 2006. This was fabrication. His real crime was to help a union to register at labour department.
 
The ballif gave the orders of LHC to produce him tomorrow morning before the judge. He also noticed that police formally arrested him this afternoon and not the time he was picked up last night.
 
We bought him some essentials.
 
On the way back home, I was called by Ashraf Sohna, the Punjab Labour Minister. He belongs to PPP. He heard about my press conference. He was very sorry of the police treatment of Niaz Khan. He was angry on them. I invited him to come to Lahore High Court and also to the rally, he agreed. Since then, he has called me three time to tell that he has spoken to Inspector General of Police in Punjab about Niaz Khan and others. He confirmed that he will be in the court room tomorrow to show solidarity with arrested workers.
While I was writing this mail, I got another call from Faisalabad that our arrested leaders have been beaten up severally by police as well. I then called to Faisalabad police chief and asked him to stop police brutalities. He said he is unaware and will take a notice of that.

 
We will fight back despite all these. We have no other way but to break the chains.

27\05\2009

Latest about Niaz Khan's and Interwood trade union leader's arrests
This evening two Bailiffs on orders of Lahore High Court were issued for recovery of the arrested trade union leaders; Niaz Khan, general sectary, Ittehad Labour Union Carpet Industries Pakistan and leader of National Trade Union Federation and Kurram Shehzad and Abdul Qadir of the Interwood Furniture Company. This was a petition by Farooq Tariq against Umar Virk, SP-CIA , Muhammad Boota, DSP and Sharjil Butt, SHO, Baghbanpura Police Station.
When Bailiffs reached the CIA center Model Town and Baghbanpura Police Station they found that Police have registered arrests of the trade unions leaders at 12:00 noon today. Police have registered arrest of Niaz Khan in a false case of dacoity in 2006. A false case of theft is also registered against 11 union leaders of the Interwood Company. Niaz Khan was arrested last night around 1:00 a.m. and Khurram Shehzad and Abdul Qadir were arrested yesterday at different times. It is an absolute misconduct on the part of Lahore Police to register fabricated cases on the union leaders only because they are organizing workers. Niaz Khan has also been tortured by the CIA staff last night and this afternoon as well.
High Court has ordered police to produce Niaz Khan and Khurrm Shehzad and Abdul Qadir in the court tomorrow.
Against these attacks on the trade unions, the National Trade Union Federation, Labour Party Pakistan, Labour Education Foundation and Women Workers Help Line are organizing a big rally tomorrow in Lahore at 4:00 pm from Regol Chowk to Chief Minister House. National Trade Union Federation is also organizing demonstrations in this connection in Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar.

26\05\2009

34 trade union activists and leaders have been arrested in Faisalabad and Lahore. The police have conducted late night raids at the homes of union leaders. 30 activists of Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM), a Faisalabad based labour organization of textile workers, have been arrested under serious charges of attempt of murder, dacoit and kidnapping. The arrested include two main leaders of LQM, Rana Tahir and Raja Arshad. Their real crime is to register a union at Kamal Textile Mills Faisalabad, the first such union to be organized in the factory. Police has registered a case against 1300 workers.

Four trade union leaders were arrested in Lahore including Niaz Khan General Secretary of Ittehad Labour Union Carpet Industries Pakistan and leader of National Trade Union Federation. Niaz Khan had been warned by the CIA (police agency) not to get involved with the worker's protest at Interwood factory or else face the wrath of the state. Niaz Khan stood by the worker's of Interwood due to which he was arrested from his house in Lahore at 1:00 am. The others who were arrested include Khurram Shahzad, Abdul Qadir and Amanat Ali. Amanat Ali is the father of another union activist Khurram Shahzad. When police could not find Khurram, they shamelessly took his father instead. Police have been raiding homes of Interwood workers union last night. Police have misbehaved with females when they raided houses of union leaders Ghulam Abbas and Muhammad Akram.

There seems to be no difference between the Musharaf Dictatorship and present democratically elected Punjab Government when it comes to the workers rights. It is shameful on part of the Shehbaz Sharif government that its Police are arresting workers on the behest of owners of factories because workers are organizing themselves in unions.

The National Trade Union Federation and Labour Party Pakistan have announced nationwide protests on the 27th of May against the brutal suppression of worker's demands and their legal right to form unions. There will be demonstrations held all in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Mardan, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and other cities to express solidarity with the worker's of interwood and carpet industry. We request all those inside Pakistan to attend these demonstrations to register their protest against the anti-worker policies of this government. For all those outside Pakistan, please send solidarity messages to raise the morale of those arrested in these testing times and write protest letters to the government in order show your disgust at this government highhandedness

With each passing day, the people of Pakistan are realizing that capitalism offers them nothing except hunger, poverty, humiliation oppression and war. The last two months have seen a rise in resistance with a mass movement of the peasantry and an upsurge in union activities throughout the country. The LPP will continue to support these resistance movements until we are able to rid Pakistan of capitalism, imperialism and exploitation.

23\05\2009

Please Protest:  Interwood Furniture Company's brutal actions against trade union

 Four workers of the factory are arrested by Police without any charges

 Agencies are threatening the National Trade Union Federation's leaders against supporting the Union

Today, 23rd May, few of the Interwood Furniture Company workers who are sacked from job due to unionization were gathering at some distance from the factory for going to the labour department in Lahore. Suddenly a heavy contingent from Shalamar police station arrived and started baton charging the workers and arrested four of them. Many workers suffered injuries due to baton charge and they were forced to disperse. Till this evening no charges have been put on the arrested four workers and they have been kept illegally. The SHO of police station is openly supporting owner of the company and is harassing the union leadership.  

Owner of this company closed the factory on 15th May due the reason that workers have organized themselves in union. Due to closure of the factory more than 800 workers have lost their jobs. It is to be noted that according to law any factory owner cannot close the factory without consultation with union. More than 65 workers including 11 office bearers of the Interwood Workers Ittehad Union have been sacked form jobs by just sending a letter to their homes. The Union went on hunger strike on 16th May against this closure and sacking of workers. After a powerful rally by the workers on 17th May from Shimla Hill to Mall road, the Chief Minister took the notice and asked his office to investigate and resolve the issue. But when Union leaders visited the Chief Minister office, they were argued by the officials there to accept the owner's decisions.

 Since last four days, the owner of company is forcing workers to sign some papers to get back the job. These papers include undated resignation from the job, an affidavit that the workers will remain loyal to him and if they do not remain loyal may the curse be upon them and their children.  Owner is also registering a pocket union and these workers are also forced to sign the membership forms of pocket union.

Majority of workers have still not signed these papers and are willing to fight for their rights. Union has filed cases against sacking of workers from jobs and have also submitted a complaint to District Labour Officer against the closure of factory. The Labour Officer told union and NTUF's leaders that he is also put under lot of pressure for registering the union. He suggested the union leaders to approach Nawaz Sharif for solving this issue because the Punjab Government officials are directly involved in this case and are openly supporting the owner of Interwood Furniture Company.

Niaz Khan, the NTUF leader is receiving phone calls from CIA persons since last two days that they want to see him. Today two persons from CIA (police agency) visited LEF office to see if Niaz Khan, the NTUF leader is sitting in the office. These persons were then waiting outside LEF office for few hours to watch the activity of workers. Punjab government's administration is fully supporting the owner against workers.

Please send your protest letters against the Interwood Funiture Company's owner and the Lahore district administration and Punjab government officials' support of the owner against the union. (Some previous information regarding this union is also enclosed below)

Please send your protest letters to:

1. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime minister
Prime Minister House, Islamabad,
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
E-mail:
webmaster@infopak.gov.pk

2. Mr. A Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail:
ministry.interior@gmail.com or interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

3. Mr. Mian Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister of Punjab
H-180 Model Town, Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 5881383

4. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E-mail:
law@punjab.gov.pk

5. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E-mail:
chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

6. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Lahore
PAKISTAN

7. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road, Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 9200023
E-mail:
governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk 

8. Secretary of Law and Parliamentary affairs
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E-mail:
law@punjab.gov.pk 

9. Home secretary
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E-mail:
home@punjab.gov.pk 

10. Labour and Human Resource Minister
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E-mail:
labour@punjab.gov.pk 

 

 

 

    
May Day 2009
May Day 2009 in Pakistan is celebrated with a new upsurge in labour movement. There are daily demonstrations across Pakistan by various sectors of the working class on the issues of shorter working day, against contract labour and privatization.... more

 

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