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Strike against electricity privatisation in Pakistan

Electricity supply workers took to the streets in Lahore on 1 November to protest at government plans to dissolve the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO), the privatisation of power distribution companies and the appointment of a private sector Chief Executive in the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO).
Mass demonstrations, marches and rallies organised by the Hydro Electric Labour Union brought out 140,000 workers in the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), in Lahore, Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad, Bannu, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Sukker, Hayerabad and Quetta.
Strikers condemned the proposed privatisation of utilities and the latest price hike in the power tariff. In Lahore, workers gathered in front of WAPDA House, angry and determined to fight the proposed privatisation. One protester, Rizwan, told RESISTANCE (Workers Power’s sister-paper in Pakistan) that “our struggle is to save the WAPDA from privatisation, but we need to build class wide unity as the government is attacking the workers in many departments”.
Addressing the rally in Lahore, union leader Khurshid Ahmed said “these are the false policies of the Government which bowed to pressure from the IMF and World Bank and did not allow WAPDA to build a new power station in time. They also kept generating companies without gas supplies. In addition, the Karachi Electric Supply Company and other Government agencies failed to make a payment of Rs 1 trillion. This was what left the country without power repeatedly.
Now the Government is using the loss as a pretext to privatise all generation companies, along with transmission and distribution network. Thousands of workers have laid down their lives to build these systems. Workers will not allow the government to oblige its cronies with these companies.”
The struggle of 140,000 WAPDA workers is to force the Government to develop cheaper electricity for the people, overcome serious power cuts and defeat the proposed privatisation. They also raised slogans against the IMF and World Bank.
Other union leaders said the working class of WAPDA would not allow privatisation of public utilities and pointed out that the privatisation of Karachi Electric Supply Company had failed miserably. They warned that the workers would cut power supplies to VIPs if the government continued with its privatisation policy.

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