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The increase in the prices of petroleum products should be withdrawn.

The working class should wage struggle against the IMF and Anti People government and Mafias.

(Labor leaders demanded at the protest rally in Karachi)

KARACHI (Press Release) July 3rd: Rising petrol prices, forced retrenchment of workers, power, and water shortages prove that the country was under the complete control of the anti-people mafias and a full-fledged people’s movement is needed to defeat them.

These views were expressed at a rally organized by National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF), Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), and other organizations at Karachi Press Club. The protest was organized on the call of the NTUF and Haqooq-e-Khalq Movement. Hundreds of workers as well as representatives of political and social organizations and women workers took part in the protest.

Addressing the protest rally, Nasir Mansoor, secretary-general of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) said that even before the annual budget was passed, the government had imposed a mini-budget on the people prepared by the mafia and economic hitmen of IMF. The government had robbed the pockets of the people by increasing the prices of petroleum products by 25 to 60 percent in a criminal manner while keeping the legal system in abeyance. The petroleum mafia in the government had made billions of rupees overnight. It had created a storm of rising inflation. The petroleum mafia got courage to do it because the sugar and flour mafia which also earned billions of rupees through illegal means went scot-free.

He added that on one hand, the government had left 220 million people at the mercy of the deadly coronavirus due to its reckless policies while on the other hand, the health workers who were fighting against the deadly epidemic were helpless. Many doctors, nurses, and paramedics had died as a result of the government’s apathy towards the health sector. Evidence of the government’s anti-people sentiment was that it had not only neglected health and education sectors in the current budget but also not increasing the salaries and wages of workers and employees which had pushed millions of people into further poverty and destitution.

Zahra Khan, general secretary of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), said that the country was already suffering from the worst economic crisis as a result of IMF-led policies, but the incompetent government had exacerbated the crisis with its actions. ۔ More than six million workers have lost their jobs in the last six months, while it is feared that more than 18 million workers will lose their jobs in the coming days. The situation was that more than fifty percent of the country’s population was forced to live below the poverty line.

She stressed that most of the families of the workers were suffering from malnutrition and starvation while the government, despite all the claims, had completely failed to provide timely and immediate assistance to the workers affected by the epidemic.

Comrade Khaliq Zadran, Convener of Lyari Awami Mahaz, while expressing his views, said that the power crisis in the country is getting worse. The citizens of a developed city like Karachi suffer from mental and physical suffering due to 12 to 14 hours of load shedding. Despite seventy years of independence, the citizens of the country’s largest city were deprived of basic necessities like water. Nowadays, the whole of Karachi was protesting due to the non-supply of water and electricity. The government has left the citizens of Karachi at the mercy of the K- Electric and water mafia.

Usman Baloch, the labour leader said that the hypocritical behavior of the government can be gauged from the fact that on the one hand the government was opposed to lockdown to save the jobs of the workers while on the other hand, it has privatized more than forty-three institutions to make millions of workers jobless. The government had withdrawn state subsidies, imposing more economic burdens on the people at the behest of the IMF. The government was conspiring to transfer the trillions of rupees owed to the power generating companies to the people through a parliamentary bill.

Other Labor leaders added that at a time when all opposition parties were miserably failed to protect people’s rights, it had become imperative for the working people and the conscious section of society to wage a full-fledged struggle against the incompetent government which works for IMF and powerful mafias.

They demanded that
an increase in petroleum prices should be withdrawn and the mafia involved in this crime should be brought to justice.

The salaries and pensions of the workers should be increased in proportion to inflation.

All fired workers, including steel mill workers, should be reinstated.

The decision to privatize 43 public institutions should be withdrawn.

K- Electric had failed to provide basic facilities to the people and its control should be handed over to the city or provincial government with immediate effect.

Water projects for Karachi should be completed immediately. All hydrants should be shut down and citizens should be freed from the clutches of the water tanker mafia.

Together with other countries, refuse to repay all foreign debts and the amount should be spent on peoples welfare schemes.

Provide social protection to all citizens under the Universal Social Security System.

In addition to safety gear, training should be provided to medical staff on an emergency basis and their salaries should be increased by 100 percent.

Among those who addressed the protest were Gul Rehman, President of National Trade Union Federation Sindh, Comrade Abdul Rehman Baloch, president Shahmir welfare Trust, Aqib Hussain, Leader of J&P Quotes Union, Gul Bakht Shah of Assist Employees Union, Saira Feroz, General Secretary of United HB Garment Workers Union, Saeeda Khatoon, Chairperson Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affecttees Association. Leader, Wasim Jameel of SESSI officers Association, Faran Ali General Secretary of Rauf Textile, Himmat Ali, leader of Karachi Sindh Sujag Mazdoor Federation, Kulsoom Baloch of Student Action Committee, Saeed Baloch of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, Dr. Asghar Dhasti, Basit Jagrani, Organizer of Garment Textile General Workers Union Korangi, Barak Zaidi of Lyari Awami Mahaz.