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Pakistani workers win wage raise after strike

31 August, 2022After striking for a month, power loom workers in Pakistan have secured a win by signing an agreement with the employer on wage increases, contributions to social security and improved health and safety.

Over 40,000 power loom workers in Faisalabad have been on strike since 1 August. Unions were demanding a 17 per cent wage raise for power loom workers, as mandated by the government, with effect from 1 July.

In the last month, inflation in Pakistan has reached an all-time high. The price of essential commodities, especially food, has risen sharply amid the catastrophic floods in the country. Not earning a living wage further deteriorates workers’ situation.

To secure the government-mandated wage raise, unions put up a strong fight when pressured by authorities to end the strike. Workers carried on the struggle until an agreement was signed with the employers. Striking workers in Sudhar Industrial Zone secured a raise of 15 per cent in wages, while those protesting in Ghulam Muhammadabad Industrial Zone secured a raise of 14 per cent.

Niaz Khan, general secretary of ILUCIP, says:

“This is a big victory for the workers who resisted the pressure to end the strike and fought hard. Now, unions must make sure that the agreement is effectively implemented and that workers receive the benefits outlined in the agreement.”

The agreement is valid from 1 July, with the raise applied to wages paid in June. The agreement also states that factory owners will contribute towards social security for the employees. Factory owners will also have to provide facilities to ensure workers’ health and safety.

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALLSouth Asia regional secretary, says:

“IndustriALL congratulates our affiliates for standing strong and winning this fight. It’s terrible that factory owners refused to comply with the government order for a wage raise in March, forcing the unions to take direct action. The agreement is a testament to the power of a unionized workforce.”