Pakistan: PIA strike – daring battle in class war

Lal Khan
In Defence of Marxism

The month long strike activity of the PIA workers took a dramatic turn on February 2nd, when the deadline of the Joint Action Committee of the PIA workers to stop flight operation was crossed.pia-attack

In the morning the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) labour unions defied a government ban on union activity, and observed their planned strike against the privatisation of the national flag carrier. Unlike previous showdowns, the government tried to use a weak legal excuse as a weapon. They invoked the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952 against the PIA for six months, outlawing  union activity across the country inside and outside major airports.

The management and the regime continued the flights activity with pilots hired from private airlines and leased from the Pakistan Navy. Heavy contingents of riot police and paramilitary Rangers were deployed outside Jinnah International Airport. But when the workers at Karachi’s old airport tried to move towards the main terminal tarmac, to stop flights from operating, the brutal state forces resorted to severe violence. Initially they used water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to disperse the protesters.

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