TWO PROTESTS in Pakistan have shown growing opposition to the privatisation policies of General Musharraf’s military regime.
The demonstrations in Karachi and Hyderabad were called by electricity workers’ unions.
An umbrella organisation, bringing together unions at Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), held a protest outside the Karachi Press Club.
This is the only place in the whole of Karachi where protests are allowed since the 1999 military coup that brought Musharraf to power.
Up to 1,000 workers attended the protest on 6 December, demanding an end to attempts to privatise the company.
Workers carried placards and banners, and raised slogans against privatisation and increases in electricity prices.
A second demonstration, on an even larger scale, was held in Hyderabad, called by the Hydroelectric Workers’ Union.
Some 3,000 workers with red flags and banners protested, raising anti-government slogans and stopping along their route to set fire to piles of car tyres.
Privatisation of utilities, which has proceeded rapidly since the mid-1990s, has led to increased costs for workers.
Utility bills have increased threefold under General Musharraf.
The price of gas for low income households has more than trebled in this period, causing great hardship.