Pakistan telecom victory
The policies of the ruling class based on privatisation, downsizing, and restructuring have made life hell for the working class. On the one hand the rulers are throwing the workers into the quagmire of joblessness and poverty and on the other hand they are involved in massive corruption and looting. And in a continuation of this looting and plundering, they are planning to privatise the Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Ltd. (PTCL). The total number of employees at PTCL is 60,000 out of which 7,000 are on contract. According to the management of the organisation, the introduction of computers and modern machinery is the main reason for downsizing. Computers can do four times the work that a worker can do. So, in the management's view, more than 50 percent of the staff are surplus. As a result, thousands of workers will lose their jobs and will be thrown out without any notice or benefits from this organisation. However, while with one hand the management is firing the old employees with schemes named the "golden handshake", on the other hand it is recruiting new staff on a daily wages basis. Daily wages workers are performing the same job as regular workers, but they receive less salary and work without any job security. But the workers of PTCL revolted against these pro-imperialist policies through a ballot and the Pakistan Telecom Employees Union won the referendum due to their radical program. Immediately after the victory in the referendum PTEU submitted a charter of demands asking the administration to adjust wages in accordance with day to day inflation, earnings of the organisation and in line with the salaries of other good companies Instead of approving the demands of the workers, the regime not only started unfair labour practices but also started making attacks on the union to crush it. The union resisted the state attacks and kept on fighting against the regime in the courts as well as on the ground. They kept on struggling for the approval of their charter of demands but the regime did not understand the polite language of the workers. The workers gained the support of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC), which not only stood shoulder to shoulder with the employees' union in their struggle, but took on the aim to gain further support from other unions and organisations of workers and youth. On September 30, 2004 while addressing a workers' meeting the Secretary General of PTCL Employees Union, Rana Mohammad Tahir, gave a notice that the workers would go on complete strike and jam the whole communications system of the country on October 14 if the demands were not met. Some of their demands included: * The wages of PTCL workers should be increased by 15%. * The workers who deserve promotion should be promoted immediately * The quota for the recruitment of children of on duty staff should be restored. * The daily wages employees of telecom foundation should be regularised. * The employees should be paid bonuses according to the proportion of the profit of the company. * The medical facilities of the workers should immediately be restored. * The fake cases against the union should immediately be withdrawn. Initially management and the regime took this as something routine. They were not the least concerned about these demands. This attitude only further angered the workers. There was a good response to the strike call of the union. In many cities the workers participation in strike made the regime tremble and on the evening of October 12, the regime accepted all the demands of the workers and requested them to call off the strike. It is a great victory for the workers of the communication industry in Pakistan and will strengthen the cause of labour. The workers still face many challenges ahead. The inevitable challenge of the workers is to resist the privatisation policy of the regime. The PTUDC will play a key role in support of the workers in their future struggle against the privatisation.