Orders Mill Union to Dissolve the Day After Joining National Sugar Industry
a day after the inaugural congress of the Pakistan Sugar Mill Workers'
Federation (PSMWF), one of the founding members, the Army Welfare Sugar
Mills Workers' Union (AWSMWU), has been told to dissolve by the management.
Abdus Salam Memon, General Secretary of the Army Welfare Sugar
Mill Workers' Union, speaking at the founding convention of the
Pakistan Sugar Mills Workers' Federation in Karachi on 18th May
2003, where he was subsequently elected as National General Secretary.
Salam Memon, General
was elected as Secretary General of PSMWF on 18th May 2003 at the first
National Convention. Returning to his work place on the evening of the
18th he received a warm welcome from fellow workers.
On Monday, 19th May, workers of the factory were congratulating him when
the management called the union office bearers to the office of the acting
general manager, Colonel (retired) Zahinullah Khan. The acting general
manager showed the union officer bearers a confidential letter from the
Director of Farms, Head Office, Army Welfare Trust (AWT), in which the
director noted that the Army Welfare Sugar Mill was the only enterprise
of AWT in which a union existed. The letter further noted that the sugar
mill is running at a loss yet the union has continued to serve a charter
of demands. Because of this, the letter stated, trade union activities
in the factory cannot continue and the union should be abolished immediately.
reading the letter, the acting general manager ordered the union to cease
its activities and close down the union office. He said that if the union
will not stop its activities, he would forcibly do it. The union officers
could not accept the legitimacy of the order and stated that as workers
have formed the union, no one has the right to abolish it.
The acting general manager convened a meeting of factory managers and
related the order from the head office of AWT. He instructed the managers
not to have any relations with the union and forbade any communication
with union officers.
The union officers
immediately informed the membership in a general body meeting. Workers
showed their frustration and annoyance and started chanting against the
mill management. Many could not understand the sudden change in attitude,
as the union had existed since 1983, when the mill began operations, and
the union has had long-standing collective bargaining status.
of protest telegram sent to the Governor of Sindh, the Chief
Minister of Sindh and the Provincial Minister of Labour, Sindh.
The head office of the Army Welfare Trust has issued an order
to the management of Army Welfare Sugar Mills, Badin, in which
the management is directed to cease recognising the trade
union at the mill, which has existed for twenty years, and
to forcibly stop the unions activities.
This action of Army Welfare Trust is against the law, the
Constitution of Pakistan, International Labour Organisation
Conventions and the fundamental rights of workers. It is also
against the May Day message of the President and Prime Minister
of Pakistan. This action creates unrest among the workers
and shall be treated as unfair labour practice under section
63 of the Industrial Relations Ordinance of 2002.
request your intervention to order the management of Army
Welfare Trust to comply with the law, ILO Conventions and
Constitution of Pakistan and to respect the fundamental rights
of the workers.
Army Welfare Sugar Mill Workers' Union, Badin, Pakistan
Since the 19th
of May, workers have been holding meetings twice a day at the entrance
gate of the factory, in the morning at the start of work and in the evening
at the close of work. The union held a press conference at Badin City
and condemned the directive of the mill management. The union sent protest
telegrams (box, at right) to the Governor of Sindh, the Chief Minister
of Sindh and the Provincial Minister of Labour, Sindh. The telegram was
forwarded to the President of Pakistan as he is also Chief of Army, the
Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Director for ILO in Pakistan and the Federal
Minister of Labour.
Union members are contacting local labour organisations, citizen committees
and councilors of local bodies. Union members took an oath in the general
body meeting of the 19th not to accept the decision of the management
and to struggle for their trade union and collective bargaining rights.
Management has registered an internal complaint against the President
of AWSMWU, Mohammad Iqbal Baryar, and the Senior Vice President, Zaiwar
Khan, and constituted an internal inquiry board. The union believes these
are steps towards an attempt to dismiss the union officers and pressure
the workers to withdraw their charter of demands submitted in 2002.
Fragmentation and Confronting Restructuring - Pakistan's First National
Sugar Workers' Federation Emerges
asianfoodworker.net 22 May 2003]
demand amendments to IRO [Source: Dawn 19 May 2003]
Busting in Pakistans Sugar Mills: Workers Face Dismissal and
asianfoodworker.net 29 October 2001]