On July 29, 250,000 power loom workers in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest city, won a 17% pay increase after a nine day strike.
Authorities also agreed to release four unionists arrested during the dispute. The authorities’ backdown came after a march of more than 25,000 striking workers.
Thousands of workers rallied throughout the strike, despite the Punjab government banning public gatherings on July 19.
On July 22, 20,000 power loom workers in Jhang ended a 17-day strike after winning a similar victory. Women played a prominent role in both strikes, which were led by the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM). The LQM is a grassroots labour organisation formed in 2004.
In Jhang, the power loom bosses took out advertisements that falsely accused the LQM of having terrorist links. Ironically, the bosses employ armed gangsters to terrorise their workers.
On July 20, as the Faisalabad strike began, LQM district president Rana Tahir was seriously injured by gangsters. On July 6 another leading LQM member, Mustansar Rindhawa, and his brother Naseer, were shot dead.
[For more information visit Laborpakistan.org .]