For the past 10 days about 150 employees of the Pearl Continental Hotel are holed up in the basement of PC Hotel in Karachi in protest of the sacking of over 100 employees across Pakistan. What started as a simple protest on Constitution avenue in response to the sacking of 4 union empolyees from Karachi PC, 27 from Pindi PC and 70 from Peshawar 24 days back was met with ignorance from the hotel management has led the workers union to step up their protests and are now roughing it out in the basement of the PC Hotel in Karachi.
The surprising thing is the fact that over 150 people are protesting in one posh hotel in the central business district of Karachi and not one media channel has had the courage to come and report on this issue. The protesters do claim that a crew from Dawn and Express did come by a few days back but the news report never found the airwaves while Ummat has to its credit published this issue a number of times. In any argument there are naturally two divergent points of views, one naturally is originating from the management which might could be in the process of downsizing while another point of view might come from the sacked employees who could be feeling disgruntled. What concerns me is that from the number of issues that the main stream media in Pakistan is quick to dissect at a moments notice its appalling that it chooses to ignore such a protest entirely either under direct or indirect pressure. Lets also not forget the how Mindshare and Unilever blackballed the media channels from reporting on Saad Khan’s death
International Socialists activists have to its credit been reporting on this daily activities of these protesters and it lead two Peoples’ Resistance activists, Abira and Madiha to venture out and check out this situation and Abira reported as follows
The doormen were sympathetic and even showed us a way to go to the backside where we could enter from the “time office.” However we were stopped by security guard and a horrible fellow in a black suit with a walkie-talkie who tried to tell us that these strikers were a security risk.
Here are some of the fact (which still need to be refined)
There are about 150 protestors in the basement. They are now in their ninth day of occupying the basement of Pearl Continental Hotel Qasim, one of the leaders, seemed in good spirits; he said the hotel was not disallowing food provision. Most of the facts given are from Qasim. He said the management asked them to leave and got someone from the Labor Department to talk to them; the Labor Dept. guy told them they were engaged in an illegal dharna and must stop immediately. They were threatened with police action. A couple of days ago, their family members and supporters protested outside the hotel, and faced police brutality and lathi charge. Three supporters were arrested and later released. But, Qasim added, the workers are determined to stay there until their demands are met. They are willing to face coercive action if it comes to that.
The PC workers’ struggle has been going on for since 2001. PC sacked 300 employees post 9-11 slump in business. Later PC accused four workers of starting a fire in the hotel, and locked them for 2 months in a secret prison in Karachi. When they were released, these workers were dismissed on false charges of arson and for taking unauthorized leave (absenteeism). The workers were able to get a stay on their dismissal, and their case has been pending in Labor Court. Since then PC has been on an anti union rampage. PILER, International Food Union, LPP and other groups have supported them in the past. In fact there has even been an ILO investigation that concluded “grave violations of union rights had been committed by the hotel management and local authorities.” ILO requested the government to fully investigate the detention and take other actions. Details of the background can be read at Global Unions: Pearl Continental Hotel Workers Take Their Long Struggle for Justice to Geneva
The current basement struggle is in support of those four PC workers who were finally given dismissal notices recently. The court had placed a stay order on their dismissal. (Now this part I am not clear on whether the court removed the stay). But whatever happened with the stay order, the hotel issued dismissal letters to those four employees. As soon as the workers at PC heard the news, they occupied the basement. However, their demands are not limited to the reinstatement of the wrongly dismissed workers – but also the pitiful wages they get. Qasim is in assistant in the store engineering department. I could not gather the exact nature of his work – but he does some mechanical work. He has been employed at the hotel for fourteen years and gets a shamefully low Rs. 7800 for nine hour shifts each day; PC has not delivered on yearly wage increments. In addition they recently announced a 30% cut in their provident funds and said it was because the hotel was suffering losses. The workers receive medical insurance for themselves and family members, and an extra allowance of Rs.1100 – a fixed sum given to each employee regardless of experience. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this package is grossly inadequate in today’s economy. Qasim admitted PC allows all employees free meals at the hotel. But remember, a room at this hotel goes for about Rs. 20,000, which roughly equals a worker’s two month salary.
Media coverage has been abysmal. Besides Ummat nobody has published a story on the protest despite its bold and radical nature; Protestors feel the media do not wish to irk the Hashwanis who are clearly a Brahmin family, rich in connections. DAWN and Express news interviewed PC workers protesting outside the hotel, but did not carry a story. An ANP representative visited them and made false promises, according to Qasim.
A protest has been organized on Saturday March 6th at 5:00pm at Karachi Press Club
Media ignoring is [particularly the permanent pain in the neck GEO] because Mr Kamran Khan [Senior Correspondent of Daily Jang/GEO/The News] is a very "close" friend of Sadruddin Hashwani [Owner of PC – and often enjoy high tea and sumptuous lunch/dinner there] hence the news is censored. I wonder how Kamran Khan maintain/afford houses in Defence Society Phase 6 and another house in PECHS [RAZI ROAD] Karachi and both the localities are considered Posh and “Costly” residential quarters of Karachi. How many Senior Journalist can afford a sport car like Mr. Kamran Khan do? By the way Kamran Khan was also very “close” to Brigadier Imtiaz [since the days Imtiaz was only a Colonel in Karachi].
Owning 2 houses by a media person whom millions of people watch every night on one of the highest paying channels is not a big deal any more.
You expect a top celebrity who is paid millions a month by his channel to ride on a CD-70 and live in Orangi?
It matters when you sack low level/low paid employees [working journalists] from Jang/Geo and promote only few [5 Big of GEO] in the name of so-called Freedom of the Press and don't implement 7th Wage Board Award. In total more than 70 employees were sacked from GEO and we didn't read single news anywhere and same is the case with NEWSONE/ARY/AAJ/EXPRESS AND COUNTLESS OTHERS TV Channel coming out of woodwork. It doesn't suit when these channels talk about Labour Laws.
black out of the news is not a good sign.It shows that the system has been taken over by few few people of monopoly,influence and vested interest just like america.
Regarding daily ummat's roll in the whole issue, i must say that daily ummat is quite a different from other newspaper. especially in breaking the story. We saw many issues like lays chips, nestle milk and many corruption stories of the institutions.
Your blog was award-able not because you blog every thing that comes in your way. It carried some purposeful RESEARCH oriented information. But now that you have been able to reach heights, you are merely passing info without any authenticity, back ground checking, genuinety. You are now merely working on the same lines as other news related media, some of which are mentioned in comments above. The issue on PC Hotel or the politically backed Village Mai (can't recall her name) are the examples. The text of your blog on PC clearly displays it. Where is your difference? Sorry, but now you have lost my interest as well as vote. To keep the record straight, i have nothing to do with PC or Village Mai or any political party. WAS just a fan of yours who use to post you on Facebook off and on.
Tariq – thank you for the feedback – I still feel its not about posting anything and everything that comes across on email but I think its important to bring forth issues that are left unheard of. The issue of Mai Jori is still not being covered on the main stream media for whatever reason – but the significance of a common person heck a feudal oppressed women to have the courage to stand up [with who-so-ever's support] is to be recognized – if she wins or not is beside the point – i see this event in the same light as the case we won on the Khashkheli tribe – since then our team of experts in the People's Resistance has taken 3 similar issue to fight against the feudalistic culture – these people approached us because there is a precedence of a successful case.
PC issue – is also important – its not to defend the workers union or to rant against the hashwani's its to quiz as to WHY the media is ignoring this case – giving it zero airtime – seems suspiciously worrisome – and my question is posed exactly as "Media ignoring ….."
All said I thank you for the feedback
PC issue is not linked with feudalistic mentality but opportunists of capitalism are not taking any kind of risk for reducing their profit might lowered due to slum in business ventures.
It was not only PC but many other private and semi private organizations are following the same trend.It is interesting to see that another side the executives of same company have tripled their packages and incentives during this recession period and all anger of financial international crisis was thrown to lower working class.
Haswhani group has strong links with all top generals, bureaucrats, journalists and business men who get benefits from such hotel business by giving him different kind official bribes.
The real problem is inhuman written contract which each employee signed in frustration of getting any reasonable jobs.So such vultures of capitalism are all time ready to exploit the human strength and values as long as they can extract energy from them .
Weak government cant control these influential and they always hire crook lawyer for handling any such kind of legal contingency during such resentment from man power.
Another aspect of capitalism.
The Services Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 2010 passed into law on Friday after receiving President Zardari’s assent. This is a laudable step forward and ought to set a significant precedent for further legislative reforms referring to workers’ rights. First, the new bill repeals the Removal from Service (Special Power) Ordinance 2000, a draconian measure taken by the then military government that allowed certain categories of employees to be dismissed from service without due process. The earlier piece of legislation could be used against persons in government service and workers employed by a “corporation, corporate body, authority, statutory body or other organizations set up, established, owned, managed or controlled by the federal government”, which included bodies as wide-ranging as Wapda and the railways. The repeal of this legislation will go a long way towards granting protection against wrongful dismissal to a large number of workers.
THE DETAIL OF THIS LEGISLATION is with this link
Now after seeing the plea of PC workers and like latest updates from borders
903 FC men dismissed from service
Would such law apply to strong tycoons of state?
My answer is that no way such laws can ever touch strong corporate groups Pakistan as long as zardari like people would govern the system.
They are mending such laws to give benefits to their political workers in govt departments only that is why thousands or workers only have political back have been wrongly inducted to steel mill, PIA, national banks and railway like bank corrupt institutions of state under legal protection.
So goons of politics are making laws for sucking last blood from veins of govt through such legislation as all other private groups have already formatted counter laws to handle them in labor courts.
Judges of labour court while knowing the all situation are still unable to help these workers as paper work is going against the workers who are attached to these industries for many years without any written proof.
hay every one including nazia.
guys,there is no law there so what is the use of bringing issues to the media or public…at the end of the day every issue goes into a dead trunch where it will remain a silent history for the rest of our life.we should know that what ever is happening in pakistan is very shameful to every one and its point of embresement to comment on any issue…
sorry to say this but this is the fact of todays pakistan…
The laws are found abundance in our system but we have shortages of people who can understand the importance of its application in the system and all discredit goes to military rules who through out promoted this lawless culture in the region.
We have two options either to live here and try to bring the change through our words and actions or leave the area and find another option as per our nature.
I opt the first and doing as per my capacity where I go ,I try to prove that obeying law is necessity of our survival.
So personally every one should contribute and it is our moral responsibility, no matter how little it contributes in the system.
Pakistan is one of unlucky country that even unique situation of local terrorism has not affected the hearts of rich and influential groups of Pakistan.They all time come to MEDIA for showing their relief efforts for IDPs, shaheeds of wars and other international projected scene but never looked the miseries of own people.
During last 10 years our sugar, cement, fertilizers, media groups, land lords and builders earned profit more than previous years but they all time cried on international recessional period and in this drama removed hundreds of their workers on the name protecting their companies.
So we all have been contributed in spreading this mess of terrorism in our soil.