Asian Food Worker Frontpage

"It's Just Not Cricket"
Union Campaign Calls on English Team to Avoid Karachi Pearl Continental Hotel

30 September 2005: an Insaf (Justice) protest was organised by the Karachi Pearl Continental Hotel Workers' Solidarity Committee which saw participation from hotel workers, representatives of trade union, political, social, professional organizations including doctors, lawyers and journalists.
There is no sport more popular in the countries of South Asia than cricket. Throughout India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh cricket players are household names. To some, it might seem strange that a sport invented by the former colonial power should be so popular, but cricket can act to represent people's aspirations and even their sense of decency and fair play. When a person states, "it's just not cricket," it means something is unjust, because during a game of cricket people are suppoesed to be equal and the rules should apply to all in the same way.

At the moment, one of the best cricket teams in the world is from England, who have chosen to spend two months in Pakistan in November and December. The tour of Pakistan is already generating enormous interest among the public. Those hotels in Pakistan where the English cricket team chooses to stay will receive great prestige.

Yet, if cricket is to stay true to its ideal, where outcomes are determined by players' abilities and skills, then those who play cricket should not choose to patronise institutions and establishments which discriminate and fail to respect the rights of others.

In light of these ideals, the workers of the luxury Karachi Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel have decided to call on the English cricket team not to stay at the hotel in response to four years of anti-union actions by management.

Threats and intimidation began in 2001 when the management fired 300 casual workers and then attacked and dismissed union members and leadership when it sought to negotiate with management. In 2002, management arranged for leaders of the union to be falsely accused of crimes. Three union leaders spent more than two months in prison without a single piece of evidence ever being produced. In 2003 the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) ruled the actions of the management were clear breaches of international law and labour rights and called on the government of Pakistan to investigate the matter and reinstate the dismissed workers. To date no reinstatement or independent investigations have occurred.

The union believes that the Karachi hotel should not be associated with the cricket ideals of decency, fairness or equality as long as the management continues to threaten and harass workers for being in a union and refuses to reinstate workers dismissed because they were members of a union. In conjunction with the IUF, the union is calling for messages to be sent to the English cricket team encouraging them not to stay at the Karachi PC Hotel. When the hotel management chooses to respect workers' rights, only then can it be considered "cricket".

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