LAHORE

Thousand of electricity/Wapda workers along with other trade unions held a mass protest rally outside Lahore Press Club on Wednesday under the aegis of All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Workers Union( CBA) against the proposed privatization of national public utility of electricity.

The protesters observed "protest day" allover the country by holding rallies and processions at Peshawar, Mardan, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan and Raheem Yar Khan, Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad, Quetta and other cities of the country. At Lahore, thousands of workers marched from Press Club to Chief Minister's House, Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, under the leadership of veteran trade union leader Khurshid Ahmed, general secretary of the Union, along with other representatives of the union besides many others and gave ‘darna’ at Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam for hours which was addressed by trade union leaders including Khurshid Ahmed.

At this occasion, I A Rehman, Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, assured the workers of full support for their struggle against privatization and urged the government to hold dialogue with accredited representatives of the Union being essential stakeholders.

Khurshid Ahmad demanded to the Prime Minister to take measures to overcome serious loadshedding of electricity and its high cost on war footing basis instead of its privatization since the experience of privatization of electricity in Multan and Rawalpindi and Karachi had already failed. “Its privatization would give rise to inter provincial disputes like water distribution,”he warned. Instead of privatization, he said, the govt should get recovered $200 million from capitalists and feudal lords and some politicians deposited in the Swiss banks, as was announced earlier by Federal Minister for Finance. He also asked the govt to develop hydel, coal and gas fired power stations in the public sector. He pointed out that national power company of China has been providing electricity to all consumers successfully allover the country without loadshedding and high price of electricity allover the country. “Why Pakistan can’t get the same from its public sector?” he asked. He declared that distribution of electricity into 15 companies and handing over their control to the private members of Board of Directors had increase mismanagement in Discos. “Under the constitution, it is state obligation to provide electricity to the citizens,”he reminded the PM. That is the reason that father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam especially declared to keep public utilities under the public sector in the interest of citizens, he added. He demanded to the Prime Minister to advise all concerned departments to hold dialogue with the workers on the issue and place this issue before national parliament instead of acting unilaterally.

By a resolution, it was decided to observe "May Day" as "protest day" against proposed privatization policy of the government and killing and deaths of the workers on account of unsafe working conditions and non-observance of holding social dialogue with the workers in violation of the ILO conventions and declared to take industrial action in case the government failed to fulfill its constitutional and international obligations towards the working class.