Pakistan - Union busting and mass arrest of hotel workers

Sixty-three members and officers of the Quetta Serena Hotel Union were arrested on 30 November for peacefully gathering in front of the hotel after union members were denied entry and prevented from working.

The union had held a rally at the Quetta Press Club the previous day to protest at union busting union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. by the hotel’s management. Workers reporting to work the day after the rally were issued disciplinary notices (“show cause”) and refused entry to the hotel. Union workers inside the hotel joined those forced to remain outside to ask management why they were not allowed to work. Management’s response was to call the police, who made 63 arrests.

The union had been requesting negotiations on proposals for a new collective agreement since July 2015. Rather than negotiating with the workers’ recognised bargaining representatives, management signed an illegal agreement with a group of individual workers in October 2015 and began harassing union members and officers.

The union received support from the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), which organised a campaign. At the beginning of January the IUF reported that the 63 workers were back at work. Management had not pressed charges or followed through with disciplinary proceedings, and the provincial High Court overturned an earlier labour court decision instigated by the hotel management banning union activity at the hotel. The union was pressing ahead with its demand for the negotiations on a collective agreement.

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