The union, which was formed on the back of a demand for higher wages in 1993, has a strong track record in coordinated high profile and successful strike action over the last 15 years.
Niaz Khan describes how the union prepared for the strike “A meeting of Ittehad Labour Union Carpet Industries Pakistan took place in Fateh Garh, Lahore on 17th February 2012. A large number of carpet workers participated and demanded an increase in wages. A deadline of 10th March was agreed and if this was not met agreement was secured to go on complete strike from 12th March. On 9th March a second meeting was held in Fateh Garh Lahore. It was announced that three big carpet factories Asiatics, Abbas Corporation, Usman carpet and two medium scale factories Saleem Carpet and Akbar carpet have accepted their demand of increase in wages. Committees were also formed during the meeting and was decided that from 12th March strike will continue in those factories which have yet to fulfil the demands of workers.”
By March 16th the union recorded 85% of carpet manufacturers in Lahore agreeing to the union’s demands. The union has secured a 27% wage increase for fixed wages and 33% increase in piece rates. This is the largest known wage increase for Pakistani carpet workers.
The union has now turned its attentions to the small and medium size companies that are refusing to agree to the union’s demands. The union is pushing for at least a 30% increase in these enterprises and the full force of the union is being used to pressure employers in the coming days and weeks.
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