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Pakistan Sugar Workers Struggle: Mill Unions Lauded
(from left) Bashir Ahmed, Secretary General, PSMWF, Abdul Majeed Laghari, President, PSMWF, and Ashraf Rajput, General Secretary PSMWF (Sindh Branch).
Report from IUF Pakistan Office

The Pakistan Sugar Mills Workers' Federation (Sindh), through a resolution, has demanded the Government of Sindh issue notification of what has previosuly been decided between the government and the unions. The resolution appreciated the struggle of Dadu and Thattah Sugar Mills workers and assured the workers of the federation's full support. The resolution further demanded that the government immediately implement an agreement dealing with the closure of the Dadu and Thattah mills.

This resolution was passed during the delegate conference of Pakistan Sugar Mills Workers Federation (Sindh) held on 4th June 2006 at Mirpur Khas. The Conference was chaired by Abdul Majeed Laghari and 32 delegates from 10 sugar unions participated. General Secretary, PSMWF and the IUF Pakistan Project Officer also attended the delegate conference.

Delegates to the conference.During the conference Allah Bachaio Panhwar, General Secretary Dadu Sugar Mills Employees Union presented a detailed report. He informed the conference that Government of Sindh promised on many occasions to solve workers' demands but these were not implemented. At last the workers of Dadu and Thatta Sugar Mills decided to launch a protest campaign in Karachi. A hunger strike camp was set up at the Karachi Press Club and demonstrations held at the Sindh Assembly, the Chief Minister's House and the Governor's House. During the struggle union office bearers, members and their families including females were arrested. Police tortured members and their families, baton charged rallies and destroyed the camp, but these actions could not stop the protest. The continuing struggle forced the Sindh Government to negotiate with the unions. The government offered to choose either Golden Hand Shake for all workers OR alternate employment. The unions decided the alternate employment for all workers including seasonal, daily waged and other workers. The government accepted these demands and made assurances to issue a notification, which to date has not been issued. The General Secretary said that if government will not issue this notification, "we will again start our protest and this time we will not go back."

The conference decided to launch a strong campaign in support of the Dadu and Thatta Sugar Mills workers. It was also decided that the sugar unions will organise protest rallies and demonstrations throughout Sindh Province.

The delegates’ conference also showed its deep concern over the situation of Army Welfare Sugar Mills (AWSM). The General Secretary AWSM Workers Union informed the conference that labour court had rejected the application for cancellation of registration of the union but unfortunately the Sindh High Court ordered cancelation of the registration of the union. The union has challenged the Sindh High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The union is also holding protest rallies at Badin City. The delegate conference set up a solidarity fund to support the union’s struggle and litigation.

The conference showed its concern over the situation of workers in Sugar Industry and un-controlled profit making of sugar mills owners. The Conference also demanded that the management of Sakrand Sugar Mills immediately negotiate a collective agreement with the union which is pending for many many months. The conference also appreciated the struggle of Pearl Continental Hotel Workers and assured its solidarity and support to hotel workers.

The conference elected Abdul Majeed Laghari as President, Abdul Hameed Shiekh as Vice President, Mohammad Ashraf Rajput as General Secretary, Allah Bachaio as Joint Secretary, Asghar Hussain Zardari as Publicity Secretary, Ali Mohammad Shah as Organiser and Dodo Khan as treasurer.

In the concluding session the General Secretary PSMWF endorsed the IUF support for Dadu and Thatta Sugar Workers struggle by writing a protest letter to the Chief Minister Sindh and highlighted issue through AFW. The General Secretary emphasised the need to make the unions and federation strong. He ntoed, "the political and economic situation of the country is deteriorating and workers are worst affected." Ashraf Rajput presented one year report of the federation while Abdul Majeed Laghari thanked the delegates.

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