No one to represent 25 percent laborers in parliament


Leaders of various labour unions have said that among thousands of candidate contesting elections there is not a single one who would represent the country’s 25 percent labour class.
Various trade unions and labour organizations held corner meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies in the city to show solidarity with the 1886 Chicago Martyrs.
The Karachi Press Club echoed with pro-labour slogans by various trade unions. Hundreds of laborers from All Oil Refineries Workers Organisation (AORWO) gathered at the Labour Hall of Keamari.
“No labourer is contesting the forthcoming elections. Because this is not job of the poor,” labour leader Jaleel Shah told a gathering.
Urging workers at the country’s strategic oil installation area to get united and not to get divided on politico-ethnic lines, Shah said poor labourers have little or no representation in the country’s legislatures. “You despite constituting 25 percent of the (organised trade unions) country’s total population have no representation in the assemblies,” he claimed, adding that the elected two percent had been deciding the fate of the working class so far.
Shah was also critical of the previous PPP-led coalition government, saying that the “looters” were unfortunately elected to the corridors of power. These plunderers, he claimed, were again all set to sit in the legislative assemblies.
Stressing the need for “self help”, the labour leader said the labourers should join hands to make the rulers pay attention to their lingering demands. He warned against political intervention in the affairs of trade unionism, saying ethno-linguistic considerations were detrimental to the labourer’s unity and would lead to divisions.
“You are nothing but labourers. Division on political and ethnic lines is destructive for labourers,” Shah said.
Labor Union of Master Company President Muhammad Musaid, who organised the event in collaboration with Workers LOBP Shell Pakistan and Shell Employees Union, said the gathering was first step towards bringing the divided labourers on a common platform.
He said the labourers had found sincere leader Jaleel Shah who earlier vowed to extend all out support to the labourers cause. The audience raised their hands in affirmative when Musaid asked them to be united for the common cause of protecting the workers’ rights.
Tariq Raheem, another labour leader, expressed his pleasure over the overwhelming response the laborers had given through their participation in the gathering.
The Karachi division of Pakistan Railways Labor Union took a rally from Cantonment Station to KPC in the afternoon to press the Railways management on the restoration of workers’ fundamental rights.
Led by Shaikh Majeed, the PIA employees also accompanied the marchers who demanded that the government equate the minimum salaries of workers to the price of one tola (12 gram) of gold.
Railways’ employees were led by Muqaddar Zaman. He said the workers of Pakistan Railways were still deprived of their fundamental rights. He said the Chicago Martyrs had taught the labourers to speak and fight for their rights.