We Have Workers and Struggle, Part II

March 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sartaj, from International Socialists, circulated this alert on a mutual listserv this morning:

1600 Workers of General Tyre Landhi Karachi, owned by a retired military General Ali Quli Khan Khattak [according to wikipedia, Musharaff leapfrogged Khattak to become Chief of Staff in 1998 — APP], are protesting for last 24 days against sacking of 32 factory workers including 5 CBA union leaders for demanding of their rights. Protesting workers told this scribe that General Tyre is the only tyre manufacturing factory in Pakistan on which 80 percent of vehicle-manufacturing companies depend. Although the factory is running in profit despite the recent recession, factory management is paying very less even minimum wages announced by Government of Pakistan while more than 1000 workers have no legal recognition of their job in factory. Trade Union leaders of factory were saying that they are going to call a complete strike in upcoming days which will not create a crisis in Tyre industry but also affect Pakistan’s vehicle industry. Workers also complained that the factory management is trying to pressurize and frighten the workers and trade union leaders with the help of governmental institutions and Police.

As Pakistan drifts deeper into the neoliberal abyss, owing in no small part to the conditions attached to our $11 billion dollar bailout from the IMF,  one anticipates that struggles like this one and the PC occupation (against firing, speed-ups, union busting, etc.) are only going to multiply. Add public sector retrenchment to private insidiousness, and you have yourself a heady brew. After all, there are not many better signs that something’s seriously amiss than the fact that our country, as ravaged by hunger and poverty as ever (in 76 of Pakistan’s 131 districts, roughly half the population suffers from food insecurity), last week placed its first billionaire in Forbes’ most recent rich list.

We have nothing like the leftist infrastructure needed to organize this mass discontent into strikes and walkouts on the scale unfolding in Greece, of course. Yet it doesn’t take an optimist to understand that periods of acute, structural crisis, insofar as they unravel the accumulated mythologies of an era, present opportunities to those armed with a cogent analysis and a corollary political strategy.

Certainly, it is too easy to conclude, from this fact,  that it is the Left that is bound to benefit. While it’s hard to believe that the right-wing (in our case–religious, uniformed, or suited) has answers that can satisfy large numbers of people for very long, I take seriously the reminder that the task of transforming crisis into success demands movement.

Here’s hoping we’re up to the task.

–Adaner

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