Imran Khan selling 200 state owned enterprises – Workers braced for retaliation

In a recent move by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, Prime Minister Imran Khan on the behest of International Monetary Fund plans to sell 200 state-owned enterprises in Pakistan. The announcement was made by the current Finance Minister Asad Umer even before the government had taken the oath. His Finance Minister Asad Umar highlighted a plan of creating a wealth fund which would be controlled by private business owners and would be responsible for the all strategic affairs of the state-owned enterprises. The roadmap of privatisation has already started with renewed attacks on the workers and their organisations. They are banning workplace organisations, restructuring and breaking down enterprises into different units for quick sale. The state-owned enterprises that are listed for privatisation include railways, electric supply companies, national airline PIA, gas energy companies, national oil and gas companies such as PSO and OGDCL, Pakistan Post, public hospitals, government schools and many more.  Different governments of Pakistan have been following a program of planned privatisation of state-owned enterprises since 1988. The reasons given have ranged from servicing the foreign debt and ‘reforms’ to providing quality services to the public and economic revival. All claims have proven false over the years. The result of hundreds of enterprises has been horrific unemployment, destruction of unions and closure industries while their lands have been used for urban and commercial property development for heavy short term gains. Enterprises still operating have only deteriorated in service provision while their profits have skyrocketed. The only gains have been made by prospectors, speculators and investors while workers and the general public are largely deprived of employment and access to essential social services. Privatisation renders government incapable of accumulating enough resources to fund further development in the social and infrastructure related sectors for public. Pressure is mounting from international Banks and IMF to speed up the privatisation process, but the government is carefully acting to avoid any backlash from workers. Hence measures are being taken by the government to adopt anti-worker and anti-trade union policies. This also includes arresting trade unionists, worker activists and workplace organisers on fake police cases and putting them behind bars. The only way forward for the workers of the public enterprises on the hit list is to organise inside and outside of their sectors, in public and most importantly international workers and trade union support against government attacks in the form of privatisation.