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Workers' strike declared illegal
TENS OF thousands of public-sector workers have been involved in a bitter struggle since November 2006 to force the government in Pakistani administered Kashmir to implement promises of compensation for losses suffered during the earthquake.
J Khan, Trade Union Rights Campaign - Kashmir
Since 6 February, these workers - organised under the Employees Action Committee - have been involved in an indefinite strike. Other workers have joined the action.
In what is a very rare occurrence women workers from social welfare and education sectors held their own independent protests in the town of Bagh and joined the strike.
On the evening of 7 February the Kashmiri government declared the strike illegal. The authorities also issued a 'Section 144' on the capital city Muzaffarabad, which makes any street meeting of more than four workers illegal.
Leading activists in the strike are also members of the Trade Union Rights Campaign - Kashmir and could face severe government repression as a result of their role in the strike.
At the time of the October 2005 earthquake the government praised these public sector workers as "heroes" because they saved the lives of thousands and eased the suffering of many more despite the losses they themselves incurred.
As a result the Federal Pakistani and the Kashmiri government offered to wipe out bank loans taken by workers during that time and also give them a bonus equivalent to three months pay.
None of these promises have been implemented.
Compensation for damage and destruction of houses has not been paid. And yet millions of Rupees of earthquake relief funds have disappeared into the pockets of corrupt government officials and army officers who are associated with the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation authority.
We appeal to trade union and community activists, and socialists worldwide to send solidarity greetings to the strikers and protest letters to the addresses below.
For solidarity greetings send messages to: Employees Action Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
For protest letters: demand the immediate implementation of the following:
- For the democratic right to strike, withdraw all Section 144 orders.
- No victimisation of Employees Action Committee members.
- Earthquake-affected workers loans should be written off from 8 October 2005.
- Three months advance salary as bonus be implemented.
And send to: Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, firstname.lastname@example.org
President Musharraf of Pakistan www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx (go to this webpage and fill in the online message)
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