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More Trade Unions Activists arrested in Pakistan

8 Trade Unions activists at Dada Bhai Cement Factory Norrieabad, district Dadu, Sind have been picked up by local police at 11pm on 28th June. Their crime was to organize a new union at the factory to fight for workers right. They took a legal course to register the union and applied with the National Industrial Relation Commission for that. But after the initial threats and intimidations, now police have been used to arrest the activists.

The arrested trade union activists include Mohammed Younas Rahoo, a National Committee member of Labour Party Pakistan. The other 7 are also members of LPP. The real nature of the charges has still to emerge, as we do not have yet the access to First Investigation Report (FIR) of Police.

Mohammed Younas Rahoo was elected in May 2000 as the new union secretary by a meeting of workers attended by over 300. When the administration of this profitable cement factory came to know about the establishment of the new union, they came to Labour Party Sind Office in Hyderabad and offer a bribe of half a million Rupees ($ 10,000) to Younas Rahoo and others for not registering the union. Despite a severe economic crisis of the party, Younas Rahoo, Aziz Abbasi and other trade union activists refused to accept any bribe and told them that they will go ahead with the process of union registration.

There are already few trade unions registered in the factory but all of them have become real collaborators of the bosses. All the efforts to form a genuine union were blocked by the bosses. Then Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation (WDMF) affiliate of Pakistan Workers Confederation took up the task to register the union at the factory level. The General Secretary of WDMF, Aziz Abbasi, a veteran workers leader and a member National Committee of LPP, applied for the registration of the union with the help of some 300 workers of the factory. This became the real crime and police have arrested Younas Rahoo and other trade union activists of the factory. There are reports that police is also looking for Aziz Abbasi.

Meantime, the Chairman of LPP Dost Mohammed Channa, senior vice chairmen of LPP Pakistan Makhdoom Rashid have warned the local administration that workers of other factories will not keep quit on this brutal attack on the fundamental right of workers to form the union.

In another development, several close supporters of LPP in Railway workshops at Lahore have been transferred to for off places from Lahore as a punishment. They have gone to the Labour Court in Lahore against the decision. Their crime was to organize mass movement of the workers against the ban on overtime and peacework.

In Lahore, LPP General Secretary Farooq Tariq and Chairman Shoaib Bhatti described the event as the real face of the present military regime. It exposes the so-called liberal face of the regime. They said in a press release that this is eight time, that the regime have attacked LPP activists who are in the fore front of the fight for democracy and socialism. LPP leaders said that the Railway workers leaders in Rawalpindi were released on bail but they still have to face the charges in the courts. LPP leaders told the regime that these events would not stop the activists of LPP in their fight against the capitalist system. They told that in one month alone, 16 activists and leaders of LPP have been arrested and their real crime was to organize the movements and unions to fight for workers rights.

We will send you more details tomorrow as we are now collecting the address of the responsible administration and police officials to send protest letters.

Report by Farooq Sulehria, member National Executive Committee Labour Party Pakistan

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