A representative meeting of more than 70 trade union federations, plant level unions, labour bodies from industrial zones, leftist parties, youth, students, women, social organizations, labor rights and human rights organizations, professional organizations, and individuals was held on Saturday, September 22, at Karachi Art Council to discuss the 9/11 factory fire tragedy in Karachi/Lahore and to develop joint action plans to demand justice from the culprits and for workers' rights. Yousuf Masti Khan, of Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), presided over the meeting.
Nasir Mansoor, of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), coordinated the meeting and briefed the participants about the current situation and the various measures taken by different organizations including the case in the high court, collection of information about the deceased and injured workers, and proposed future actions to cope with the situation.
The representatives stated that the government has been trying to give safe cover-up to the factory owners and sweep the fire tragedy under the carpet through the formation of a partial commission, which lacks the trust of worker-representative bodies. The fact that the government has yet to initiate any compensation process shows that it has no sympathy toward the deceased and injured workers and the plight of their families. The government is failing to respect the law and punish the culprits responsible for the tragedy. Rather the government is dragging on the process in the hopes that the people will forget it. That is why it allowed the main culprit to go escort-free and facilitated the obtaining of preemptive bail, first from Larkana Bench and than from Rawalpindi. This shows the state apparatus' attitude toward the 300 workers who were burned alive in the tragedy.
The worker representatives resolved that only through joint resistance will workers and their allies be able to change the situation in favor of the working class.
It was the consensus of the meeting to reject the commission and the government's half-hearted measures.
The representatives decided to form the "Workers Right Movement (WRM)" to launch a movement for the implementation of labor laws, compensation to the families of the deceased workers, compensation for the injured and for other workers who lost their livelihoods due to the fire, closure of the factory, and the arrest of factory owners and confiscation of their assets and bank accounts.
To press for these demands, plans for a large worker rights rally at Regal Chawk at 4pm on Saturday, September 29, were announced.
Three committees were also formed to mobilize professional organizations, the media and workers of different industrial areas.
The leaders who addressed the meeting were Salhudin Gandapur (Pakistan Bar Council), Ghani Zaman, Shafi Ghori (National Trade Union Federation), Habibudin Junedi (All Pakistan Trade Union Organization), Manzoor Mallah (Rail Ways Mehnatkash union), Usman Baloch (Workers party)Dr Nisar (CPP), Ghulam Muhammed Jadoon(APP), Sajjad Zaheer (Labour Party Sindh), Fahim Zaman (CFD), Khuram Ali (NSF), Nawab Ali (Hosiery Garments Workers Association), Zehra Khan (WBWWF), Shaikh Majeed (PIA Employees peoples Unity), Sharaft Ali (PILER), Syed Hamid (PWF), Jafar Khan(MLF), Noor Muhammed(PWC), Mirza Maqsood (Pakistan Steel Jonior Officers Association), Nasim Hyder (Pakistan Steel Democratic Progressive Workers Union), Muhammed Zubair (PAS), Ghulam Muhammed (Atlas Honda Auto labour Union), Atiqurehman (Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation), Gul Reham (SITE workers Action Committee), Abdul Shakoor (Power Looms General Workers Union), Bashir Ahmed (Gadani Ship Breaking Labour Union), Yusuf Khattak (Mazdoor Mahaz), Aslam Khan (Trade Union Action Committee), Comrade Fahad (Progressive Youth Front), Malik Rafiq (labour law expert), Sardar Azmat Advocate (Karachi Bar Association), Sarwar Jawaid (jourmalist), Hasan Akhter (human rights activist), Eqbal Alvi (Ertiqa Institute), Hasan Aliya (PDF), Muhammed Aslam (Kohinoor Chemical labour Union), Abdul Rehman (J&P Coats Azad Labour Union), Salim Akhter (Professional Organizations Alliance), and Ali Ghulam (BNSO). Many other organizations share in their views.
Nasir Mansoor is the Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan, and a founding member of Worker Rights Movement (WRM) on September 22, 2012.