17 Septemper 2010
Workers' Relief Committee continues to provide relief to affected workers across the country
The Workers' Relief Committee (WRC) is continuing its tireless activities in the different flood-affected areas. The main focus so far has been to provide food, medicines and shelter to people, especially workers who are suffering.
There is a seven member coordination committee elected to run it and all the decisions are being made in its meetings. WRC members are working voluntarily, so there is hardly any administrative expenditure involved in the relief activities.
So far, the WRC has spent more than £7,000 on relief activities and there is much more to do. More than £3,000 has been raised from inside the country. We are still trying to raise more from working class people in Pakistan and know that more is on its way from workers elsewhere in the world.
As one striking example of our work, we have provided help to one hundred flood-affected families in the village of Lundi Patafi of Tehsil Jatoi, in the district of Muzafar Garh in Punjab Province. Cooking pots, dishes, plates, glasses, tea cups, soap and other materials were distributed. The WRC local committee selected the most needy and poor families. It has focused on this village from the beginning because no aid and relief was provided by any NGO or government body. 'Aims' - a community-based organisation working in the area and also a component part of the WRC - is playing a key role in providing relief in this completely devastated village. Our Committee also set up a medical camp here and it provided much needed medical attention to nearly one thousand people, including women, children and elderly people. It also provided food to more than 200 families. There are plans to set up the medical camp again in this village because waterborne diseases have started to spread there.
Another example of the work of the WRC is in Peshawar where we have distributed cash aid to flood-affected workers of the PTV (Pakistan Television, a state-owned TV network). £1,100 was distributed among low-paid workers to help them and their families survive. The Relief Committee together with the PTV Central Employees' Union formed a joint six-member committee at the PTV centre which drew up a list of flood-affected workers. When the committee contacted them, they further helped to identify the most severely affected workers. The aid distribution ceremony was organised in the PTV Peshawar Centre and the General Manager participated. More than 70 workers of PTV union participated in the ceremony and thanked the International trade union movement for providing relief at this difficult moment of their lives. This was the first ceremony organised by any union or federation in this regard. These affected workers were from Nowshera, Peshawar, Swat valley and Charsadah districts of Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa province. Three out of the seven coordination committee members, including the national coordinator, were present at the occasion. This ceremony was shown on the state-owned PTV nationally and got widespread publicity.
The WRC also also organised an aid distribution ceremony at Shaheen Cargo Complex at Peshawar International Airport to assist flood-affected workers of Shaheen Airport Services. This was organised in collaboration with the SAPS United Workers' Union, affiliated to the Progressive Workers' Federation of Pakistan. Workers of SAPS were given £1,000 to buy clothes, food, medicines and other material. The workers said they receive this money with pride because it is given by their brothers and sisters in Pakistan and in other countries. It had a huge impact among the work-force and union members that this relief was provided by trade unions. These workers belong to different parts of the province and are very low paid. The average wage in this sector is around £50 per month, which is lower than the minimum national wage of £70. These workers live in different cities and villages but work at Peshawar Airport.
Food and cash has been provided by the WRC to 50 families of affected workers in the Dadu and Hyderabad districts of Sindh. The committee there also provided shelter to more than 20 families who moved to Hyderabad from Mehar in the Dadu district. More and more people are contacting the WRC for shelter and relief. It continued its relief efforts in the Hyderabad relief camps even during the Eid holiday. Thousands of people that came from affected areas are living in these camps after escaping from the floods with their lives. WRC committee members are constantly visiting the camps and coordinating with other organisations to provide relief goods. More and more people are moving to these camps as flood waters continue to cause destruction in more towns and villages of the Sindh.
The Workers' Relief Committee is an initiative of the Trade Union Rights Campaign- Pakistan (TURCP) and the Progressive Workers' Federation of Pakistan (PWFP) to organise relief work on a national level. Its aim is to involve different trade unions, community-based organisations and social movements to coordinate the relief work on a national and local level.
It consists of the following organisations