National Sections of the L5I:

Resistance to privatisation in Pakistan

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Electricity workers across the country organised a protest on 13 October against the privatisation of public companies. There is growing anger about the constant price hikes of essential commodities coupled with growing unemployment and rising abject poverty.

There is a day-to-day widening of the gap between the haves and have-nots in the society which is angering many people. The government has also proposed dismantling the National public company Pepco (Pakistan Electric Power Company) into independent companies and raising power tariffs. This is all being done at the orders of the World Bank and IMF, a sign that the bosses are using the crisis to try and destroy public services.

The protest was organized by the Trade Union WAPDA (Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority ) Hydro Electronic Union and saw a massive response with workers all over the country on the streets in mass processions, holding held rallies in all the major cities including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Faislabad, Multan, Hyderabad, Quetta and other cities.

In Lahore thousand of workers begun a large procession from Bukhtiar Labour Hall which marched through the city and held a mass rally before Lahore press club. They were carrying red flag and banners in support of their demands and chanting slogans like “Down with world bank, down with IMF”, “down with privatization” and “down with price hike and Unemployment”. Some protestors burnt an effigy of the IMF

General secretary Khurshid Ahmad say that the proposed dismantling of PEPCO on the behest of IMF and World Bank would be against the interest of working peoples. He also urged WAPDA to accede the demands of the workers. He declared that if the government did not talk with the union representatives on the key issues then they would march to Islamabad. Other leaders said that the workers would spare no sacrifice to defeat the neoliberal plan pointing out that the recent privatization of KESC and RESC proved a failure.

The mood of the workers was very high, they want to fight till end against the proposed privatization and for their demands. Sajjid hussain told Resistance (Pakistan paper of the League for the Fifth International) “we are living in very bad condition, it is difficult to live in this situation. We will fight for our demands and against privatization.”