Mazdoor Action Committee Demonstration: Over 1,000 Attend
Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 8, 2006
The demonstration of the Mazdoor Action Committee held yesterday was an incredible success. Over a thousand people attended the rally organized against the extention of the working day to 12 hours and all the newspapers of Pakistan have carried pictures and/or articles about our demonstration.
It was an incredibly hot and humid day yesterday and the July sun was unsparing. Despite the heat workers came with red banners flying in high spirits. Tons of buses came in from all industrial areas of Lahore and each bus was not only brimming with workers inside, workers an equal number of workers sat and stood on the roof of each bus to attend this rally. Other workers from Gulberg industrial area, Kot Lakhpat and Railway workshops came on motorcycles, cycles, and by foot.
The first workers to get to the location assembled in the small green area next to the press club unfurling their banners and raising their flags waiting for their comrades. Spirits were so high that even before the full force of the demonstration had arrived, workers began to raise slogans, read poetry and make speaches against the government. Bashir Zafar (leader of the APTUF–Kot Lakhpat) and President APTUF General Secretary Railway Workers Union Fazl-e-Wahid addressed the audience and argued that workers should ensure that party of the government (PML(Q)) should not be able to campaign in their areas. They argued that if this party, responsible for extending the working day to 12 hours, enters a workers district
workers should get a hold of them and blacken their faces before sending them packing back.
Later as bus after bus of workers arrived the demonstration swelled to an enormous size and the diminutive green area was insufficient. The demonstration moved to a small adjoining intersection area. The tempo of slogans on continued to build throughout this period
especially when slogans were led by the leaders of the Working Women’s Organization.
The organizers tied a small speaker to the back of a bus and climbed to the roof of the bus to address the demonstration. Gulzar Chaudhry (General Secretary of the APTUF) kicked off the
demonstration with a rip roaring militant speech against the decision of the government to extend the working day to 12 hours. He emphasized how the workers needed greater clarity, discipline and organization in order to overcome the forces capitalism in Pakistan. He thanked the workers for their support and stated that the movement is willing to make any sacrifice against this criminal legislation.
By the time Rubina Jamil’s turn came to speak, a small contingent of Jamaat e Islami party faithful also assembled at the rear end of our demonstration to address the press in a separate demonstration. The relative size of our demonstrations was a sight worth seeing. Their
demonstration scarcely had between 30-50 people. Ours was standing at over a thousand but the well-funded Jamaat had two enormous speakers booming out towards our demonstrators.
Rubina Jamil of Working Women’s Organization rose to the occasion and addressed the political program of the religious right. She asked “Whose Islam do these people want to bring and for whose benefit?” She boldly stated that only a growing working class movement could address the exploitation and oppression of the people and especially women. She concluded her speech by saying that this demonstration was merely a preview of things to come. The workers movement would grow and not only send the army packing back to the barracks, it would overthrow the capitalist, imperialist and feudal system and establish a workers republic.
Mohammed Shabir of the Anjuman Mazareen Punjab said that the landless tenants’ movement was united with the workers of the city against such reactionary labour laws. He narrated how the establishment had raised houses to the ground in order to widen the road in Dipalpur. Expressing solidarity with the demonstrators he stated that next time he would also bring 10 buses of mazareen from Dipalpur to support the movement.
Taimur Rahman of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party explained that although there was a 33% increase in the minimum wage, the simultaneous 50% increase in working hours meant that the real value of one hour of labour had fallen by 11%. Combined with the impact
of inflation, which according to the state back of Pakistan stood at nearly 12%, the overall impact of these laws on workers earnings was to destroy nearly a quarter of their real wage. He said that five working class organizations had united under the banner of the Mazdoor Action Committee in order to fight the capitalists, feudal lords and the civil military bureaucracy and that the struggle would continue till this exploitative system was overthrown and a socialist workers republic established.
Next Friday the Mazdoor Action Committee will observe Yum e Siyah (Black Day) against the increase in working hours to 12 hours a day. We appeal to all our comrades and friends to join the campaign for the 8 hour day.
Next Friday (13th July) we appeal to every to:
1) Wear black arm bands to work
2) Try and put up a black flag on our office, industry, gate,
or building where we work.
3) Help the Mazdoor Action Committee distribute leaflets
against the extension of the working day
Workers of the World, UNITE !!!
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