Sugar Mills Workers Fight Back

By: Farooq Sulehria

Sugar Mills Workers at Shah Murad Sugar Mills Thatha has clashed with the police and thugs of the mill owners on 26th August. Four workers have been injured and police has registered a case against the union general secretary Deedar Khashkheli and president Urs Khachi and others.

According to a report published by Daily Dawn on 27th August, the workers were had set up hunger strike camp 15 days ago against the sacking of 171 workers. On Thursday 24th August, when the newly recruited contract Labour also suspended their work on the request of the union, the management sought the help of the police to carry out the work. On Saturday, new contract Labour was brought to the factory under police surveillance and the union clashed with the police. 4 were injured including the factory general manager Major Zia Ul Javed.

Later the workers blocked the Sujuwal Huderabad road for three hours in protest. They ended the blockade after the Sujawal senior district magistrate SDM assured the workers that an enquiry would be conducted into the matter within three days.

This incident is the latest in the series of protest launched by the Sugar Mills workers across Sind.

Out of the 34 Sugar Mills in Sind, over 700 permanent workers have been kicked out of their jobs in the month of July alone. The owner of the two factories Alnoor and Shah Murad Sugar Mills, Mr. J Ismail has made 241 workers redundant. This is despite the fact that these factories were making profit more than before. The Makhdoom Rashid, general secretary Alnoor Sugar Mills while talking to journalist at Shah Pur Jehania, where the union has set up another hunger strike camp, disclosed this. Makhdoom Rashid told the journalist that the boss’s justification that the factories are in losses makes no sense. He challenged that look at the balance sheets of the factory; they are making profits as usual.

Protest rallies across Sind with the help of the Labour party Pakistan and All Sind Sugar workers Federation has been held. On 23rd August, at Qazi Abad, a city in the interior Sind several hundreds union activists held a protest rally against the sacking of the workers. The main national high way of Pakistan was closed for over two hours while the protesters were making speeches. Khalid Bhagio. A national committee member of LPP and a workers sugar mill worker who has lost his job was the main speaker at the rally. Para Medical Staff federation workers, Tanga Rehri (horse cart) workers, Berri (tobacco) workers, Gaddah Rehri (donkey cart) workers, Maroaker Welfare Association activists participated in the demonstration.

Several trade union leaders including Makhdoom Rashid general secretary Alnoor Sugar Mills union addressed another rally on 24th August at Shahpur Jehania. He is also senior vice president of LPP. The leaders of Peoples Party, Save City Committee, City Action Committee, Jai Sind Mahaz, also spoke on the occasion.

The Central leader of Jai Sind Qaumi Mahaz (the main nationalist party in Sind) Mr. Basher Quereshi also visited the hunger strike camp of the workers and told the workers that JSQAM will give full support to the workers.

On 20th August, over 1000 workers demonstrated at Hyderabad and demanded the reinstatement of the workers.

Sugar workers unions are determined to continue their struggle. Please send the messages of solidarity to

Please send the copies to

General Pervaiz Musharaf

ce@pak.gov.pk

Mr. Zia Mahmood Mirza

Fax: 92 51 9205920

Copies to Labour Party Pakistan

labour.pakistan@usa.net


Sugar Mills workers lose jobs 

Over 700 workers of the sugar mill factories in Sind province have been made redundant during the July and August 2000. One glaring example is the Alnoor Sugar Mills and Shah Murad Sugar Mill. Mr. J Ismail owns both factories. 240 workers have been kicked out from these two factories in the end of July. The reason given by the bosses is that the mills are running in losses. So they have to lay off the workers. The Alnoor Sugar Mills Workers Union has challenged this notion and has given figures that show that the factories are running in profits. The union refused to cooperate with the bosses in the plan to lay off the workers and has started an agitation against the decision to kick out the workers.
 
There are 30 sugar mills in Sind province employing over 28000 workers. But several has been closed by the bosses during the last one year including Larkana Sugar Mills, Dadu Sugar Mills, Thatha Sugar Mills, Bawani Sugar Mills and Al-Asif Sugar Mills without paying the dues to the workers.  Many workers have been on hunger strikes for weeks to demand without much success.
 
On 20th July 2000, from Shah Murad Sugar Mill, 171 permanent workers have been laid off. From Alnoor Sugar Mills, 70 permanent workers have lost jobs. At present, there are 986 workers are employed by Alnoor Sugar Mills. Five years before, there were 1600. But these 986 workers are making more money than the 1600. The balance sheet of the factory this year also shows a big profit. But with ever lasting greed of more profits, the bosses have laid off 71 permanent workers. Most of these workers have worked over 25 years in these factories.
 
Union Response
 
The Alnoor Sugar Mills workers union has launched a protest campaign to demand for the reinstatement of the workers. In favor of the workers, The Save City Action Committee, an organization of the citizens of Moro and Shah Pur Jehania, the two small cities around the factory brought out a rally in favor of the workers demand and blocked the national high way for over an hour. The workers have set up a permanent camp outside the factory and have sit down on hunger strike. The Sind Sugar Mills Workers Federation has taken a serious note of the situation. On 20 August, over a 1000 workers protested at Hyderabad against the laying of the sugar mills workers. Makhdoom Rashid Ahmed and his union colleagues lead the campaign. Makhdoom Rashid is general secretary of Alnoor Sugar Mills workers union and national senior vice chairman of Labour Party Pakistan.
 
Labour Party Pakistan has taken a decision to have a protest Dharna (sit in) in front of Alnoor Sugar Mills on 3rd of September. The decision was taken by the national executive committee of LPP in its meeting on 19th August held in Lahore.
 
The cement workers of Dada Bhai factory have also joined the protest of the sugar mills workers. More and more unions and political parties are taking up the issue.
 
The sugar mills workers needs the international solidarity. Please send your protest letters to the following Email number of the mill owner.
 
  Please send copies to
 
Chief Executive
General Pervaiz Musharaf
Email: ce@pak.gov.pk
 
Federal Minister of Labour
Umer Asghar Khan
Fax: 92 51 9224890
 
Mr. Zia Mahmood Mirza
Chairman National Industrial Relation Commission
Fax: 92 51 9205920
 
Copies to Labour Party Pakistan
labour.pakistan@usa.net
 
Fraternally,
 
Farooq Tariq
General Secretary
Labour Party Pakistan