Pakistán - Brutal repression of workers and unionists at the Merck Factory in Quetta (2010)

Workers at the German MNC Merck Marker Quetta factory complained of low wages, especially for contract workers who make up almost two-thirds of the staff. Management responded with threats of factory closure and direct threats of dismissal. After the sacking of 24 employees in June, workers formed a factory action committee and stopped overtime work. Despite negotiations between union representatives and the provincial authorities, the factory went ahead with the threatened dismissal of at least 252 contract works on 10 July. A police complaint against eight union office holders was issued by the company while the secretary general of the Merck Employees’ Union, Manzoor Baloch, was arrested and charged with target killings, disturbing law and order and terrorism. He was released after one month’s detention. After more protests, local government forces attacked and detained 120 Merck workers on criminal charges. The General Secretary of the Pakistan Workers Federation in the region, Haji Muhammad Ramzan Achakzai, was also detained on criminal charges for supporting the Merck workers and the mineworkers in Quetta (see Appalling working conditions for contract workers – unionist supporter arrested).

On 9 August, leaders from the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) and the Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC) undertook a train rally to Islamabad over the illegal dismissal and beatings. The PWF also lodged a complaint with the ILO over the case.

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