Just Not Cricket"
Union Campaign Calls on English Team to Avoid Karachi Pearl Continental
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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