National Sections of the L5I:

Pakistan International Airline workers strike enters its third day

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Airline workers in Pakistan have taken militant action to defend their jobs which has sparked resistance across the country

Workers at Pakistan Airlines are protesting against the proposed sell off routes to Turkish airline. Hundreds of PIA workers were sitting at airports in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar. Flight operations in Islamabad were the worst affected. The workers show enormous interest in the struggle. They are demanding the removal of Ejaz Haroon, a corrupt managing director who many blame for the sell off of the most profitable routes to the Turkish airline.

Movement is growing and PIA workers are joining it all over the country. Pilots, engineers and other staff have formed a Joint Action Committee of the PIA employers to organise the strike.

Workers punctured the wheels of ground service vehicles at airports. They managed to block 26 flights. They completely stopped passengers checking in of flights at different airports. Catering Crew stopped making meals for the flights in Karachi. One of the airline workers Shakeel said “they are selling the routs and then tell us that we are surplus to requirements. They want to privatize the PIA.”

The PPP is using its Senator Reza Abidi to divided the elected CBA union and is now trying to turn on faction within the union against another. Management has sent their gangsters to attack the protesters in Karachi and Lahore. But workers have defended themselves well, in Karachi the workers came to the airport from all over city and forced the attackers to flee. Workers occupied the airports and raising slogan against the Managing Director Haroon. They are confident that they can resist the management through struggle and strike action.

Pakistan Airline Pilots Association President Sohail Baloch were among the six pilots who have been sacked for instigating workers to go on strike.

After the workers protest management is now under pressure and are being forced to back track. Their spokesman told the media we have not signed any agreement with the Turkish airline and the allegations are baseless. Now Army Rangers have been deployed at different airports, and the interior minister Rahman Malik said that if the worker did not stop their strikes then “we will resolve the issue with an iron hand.”

The struggle has erupted in an environment where government is pushing through more ‘downsizing’ and privatization of public companies. But workers are fighting back, the government is facing resistance from the workers in Pakistan postal service and the heroic fight against the sacking of 4500 from the Karachi Electric Supply Company. When the administration sacked the workers around 10,000 workers occupied the head office for nearly four days. As a result the management was forced to reinstate the workers that were sacked.

These struggles show the potential of the working class power. We need to build the workers solidarity with PIA worker how are fighting historic fight against the government planned attacked on the working class and poor.