In 1990, after the fall of Soviet Russia all those parties and personalities who toed the political line and got enlightenment from Russia got frustrated and deserted. Some of them from that leadership quit politics and disappeared from the scene while others switched their identity from the communists and progressives to Sufis and social democrats.
The above scenario affected the Labour Movement in Pakistan as most of the trade unions in Pakistan were associated with these parties and personalities or we can say that they have connections with each other since the existence of Pakistan. This is also a fact that instead of organising trade unions on a scientific basis they just used them to strengthen their own bargaining position. That is the reason that all the differences which we have seen in the partner trade unions of the pro Russian parties are not in ideology or the way of conducting the affairs but the reasons of differences were the affairs with foreign embassies and foreign tours. On the other hand those who were organising the trade unions independently on true Marxist lines were eliminated from the labour movement just after 1973. Other than globalization and the free market economy, imperialist institutions like the WTO also played a role with the help of the Pakistani state to further weaken the labour movement in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the Railways were the public entity where the foundation of trade union was laid even before the existence of Pakistan. Due to its presence all over the country and quantitative supremacy the trade unions of the railway played an important role in the labour movement of Pakistan, especially the Railway Workers Union contributed a lot for the advancement of the labour movement. This role was played positively and satisfactorily in the life of Mirza Ibrahim, founder of the Railway Workers Union, although there were other groupings at that time as well. We have not seen that Mr. Ibrahim was fond of involvement with foreign embassies nor did he put his reputation on stake for foreign tours but the leadership of the parties with whom he was associated cannot be disassociated from these charges. And there were so many other leaders who after 1990 quit Marxist politics and withdrew from the task of organizing trade unions. At that time there was no scarcity of those who denied the importance and efficacy of the red flag. At that time such attitudes damaged the Pakistan labour movement, especially the Pakistan railway workers’ union, as so many leaders got out of the political scene who were using trade unions for uplifting of their political image and stature and that was the reason behind the nose dive fall of Pakistan railway workers union.
Due to that change in the character of the Pakistan railway workers union the whole labour movement including the Pakistan railway workers union got weaker and weaker and the question was raised whether red flags, which are the symbol of revolution and the identity and legacy of the labour movement, can ever again unfold on the streets of Pakistan or not?
In such a difficult times, under the guidance and supervision of the Chairman of Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz, Tufail Abbas, we again have started organizing the Pakistan railway workers’ union step by step, and after tiring struggle we have started seeing light at the end of tunnel and now that light has become a bonfire. In Pakistan the process of privatization started in 1985 and all the rulers under the pressure of policy makers of IMF, World Bank, and imperialist powers continued it. The current rulers of Pakistan put this policy on fast track after announcing the privatization of Pakistan railways and 20 other public entities. This announcement of privatization led to discomfort in the labour movement of Pakistan; 25th April 2009 was the first day when the masses showed their discomfort with privatization and the Pakistan railway workers’ union workshops brought out a procession of thousands of workers and they marched from their workshops to the Press Club of Lahore which is a distance of almost 3 kilometers. That was the day when the red flags were everywhere. The workers were sweating but they were full of enthusiasm and motivation. After a long time, the people of Pakistan witnessed such a scene in the capital of Punjab with expressions of pleasure and surprise. The slogans of the labourers of the railways were saying that the imperialist powers and the people who are against the workers and against the dictatorship of proletariat and peasants cannot stop their advance.Report by: Shaukat Ali Chaudry
On 23rd April 24, 2009 in Lahore under the platform of Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaaz (PMM) a large number of workers demonstrated in front of the Press Club of Lahore against the privatization of Pakistan Railways and twenty other government entities. While delivering a speech to the people, Chaudry Shaukat, General Secretary of PMM, said that through privatization these public entities which were built with the public resources will go into the hands of looters who are only interested to maximize their assets and profits. They are least concerned about the welfare of the people or providing services to the public. The best example of this is the privatization of the Karachi Electric Supply Company, where after privatization the performance of the KESC is even worse. In the past as well, thousands of employees were sacked from those entities which were privatized. Privatization in underdeveloped countries is part of the policy, under cover of a free market economy and globalization, to capture the assets and resources of these countries. Through privatization we will not achieve anything other than inflation and unemployment. He further demanded that government should stop the policy of privatization, develop new industries to curb unemployment, the rotten feudal and tribal system should be abolished, land should be distributed to the landless peasants, there should be a rise in wages, employees who are on daily wages should be confirmed in their respective organizations. These are the only measures through which we can control terrorism.
Fazal e Wahid, Ameer Ali Butt, Ashiq Jhangiri also addressed the demonstration and warned the government that it should discontinue the policy of privatization or be ready for demonstrations throughout the country.Kamran Abbas
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