LAHORE - Over 200 delegates of country’s leading labour unions, workers’ federations and confederations have announced to resist government’s move to privatise public utilities and departments.

This announcement was made at ‘Anti-privatisation Conference’ organised at Taj Mahal hall on Ferozepur Road. The leaders of the unions vowed to take a united stand against PML-N led government’s proposed move to sell the power sector, Railways, Pakistan Steel, PIA, banks, utility stores and other profitable institutions on the ‘direction of World Bank and IMF’.

Jamaat-e-Islami organised the conference that was attended by leaders of opposition parties, Pakistan Trade Union Federation, National Labour Federation, Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakistan Progressive Federation, Wapda Employees Union, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, Muslim Commercial Bank Staff Union, Balochistan Irrigation Employees Union, Pakistan Steel Labour Union, Karachi Shipyard Pakistan, Jeay Sindh Labour Federation, Pakistan Coal Mines Labour Union, Telecom Workers’ Union and different Railways unions.

This get together was of great significance as labour leaders of conservative unions, mostly backed by the JI, for the first time came together with representatives of unions with purely socialist background. The union leaders said they would forget their minor differences in the larger interest to “save the country’s vital public departments and launch a united movement if the government privatises any of the public utilities or departments.”

Jamaat-e-Islami is likely to soon launch a countrywide movement against the government’s privatisation policy. It earlier organised an anti-privatisation conference in federal cabinet. A JI leader said that in first phase these kinds of conferences would be organised in all provinces following a massive anti-privatisation movement.

All unions will jointly launch the movement if the government tries to privatise any department, said the union leaders in their speeches.

They said that the privatisation of 68 public utilities and departments was on the government’s agenda.

“Sharifs want to sell profitable institutions to their friends. We will not let it happen,” they said.

JI chief Sirajul Haq presiding over the event pressed the unions to forget “old politics of left and right and to unite on the basis of right and wrong.”

He said rulers make decisions about the poor and middle class public while chairing meetings in five star hotels. “Masses must come out of their homes and resist the capitalists and feudal lords to save the future of our coming generations,” Haq said.