Thousands of lower-grade government employees across the province have been staging a sit-in outside the Lahore Secretariat since October 10th, led by AGEGA. This current protest is a continuation of the one that took place in July, where the employees are demanding improvements such as the proper disbursement of leave encashment, adjustments to anti-labour pension rules, job security in government schools, and an end to the downsizing of graduates.
Employees from various government departments across Punjab are participating in this sit-in. On the night of October 12th, the police cracked down on the protest, arresting many employees, including AGEGA’s central leader, Rahman Bajwa. Despite the arrests, the protesters continued their sit-in. Later today, another police charge led to the arrest of hundreds more employees, including the central leader of lady health workers, Ruksana Anwar and Workers from the Red Workers Front.
PTUS strongly condemn this state and governmental oppression and appeals for solidarity from trade unions and associations nationwide and internationally. Furthermore, in protest against this state oppression, teachers and students in government schools across Punjab went on strike and blocked roads.
One of the main demands during the protests in July was the preservation of a significant retirement benefit called “Leave Encashment,” which the Punjab government initially agreed to uphold. However, they later reneged on this promise. In addition, there are reports that the government is terminating the annual salary increment and laying off employees in thousands of public schools. These issues were also part of the fundamental demands of the recent protests.
PTUS supports the struggle of government employees. The protesting workers are expressing their concern that if the government continues to disregard their demands and use oppressive tactics, they may have no choice but to organise a general strike by collaborating with employees from various government departments and public sector organizations.