Pakistán - Workers jailed for protesting against illegal terminations at Philip Morris

Thirty-five workers were arrested in the city of Mardan on 6 January 2016 for peacefully protesting against the sudden dismissal of 141 employees at the Pakistan subsidiary of tobacco giant Philip Morris International. Workers were informed of the mass terminations on 21 November 2015 when they arrived at work.
With the support of the local union, whose president Abrar Ullah was among those arrested, workers launched a continuous round of protests at the factory gate after management refused to discuss the terminations and began pressuring workers to accept the illegal dismissals. To add to the pressure, police were called to the factory gate when the protest began.
On 6 January workers gathered with their union officers to present a Charter of Demands to management. The police arrived and arrested 35 protestors under the Maintenance of Public Order law, which allows for up to 90 days detention without charges.
A solidarity delegation from the Pakistan Food Workers Federation (PFWF) demonstrated outside the police station following the mass arrests. The arrested workers were then shifted to Bannu Jail, some 250 kilometers from Mardan and notorious as a prison for incarcerating Taliban activists.
Thanks to an urgent action campaign coordinated by the International Union of Food and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) the 35 workers were released on 10 January.

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