Factory appeals against workers' acquittal
After the long-awaited acquittal in August 2014, the factory management apparently filed a last-minute appeal at the High Court. This means another prolongation of a never-ending trial, which has already dragged on for more than two years, with over 100 court hearings to date, severely impacting the lives of the accused union activists.
The Power Loom Mazdoor Union has not yet been officially informed about the factory's appeal, but expects to receive the notification at the end of January. The High Court will then decide if the appeal will be accepted and processed.
The appeal is a major disappointment for the affected workers, who will continue to live in uncertainty. The Clean Clothes Campaign will carry on working together with the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) of Pakistan to support the accused workers until they are finally acquitted.
The twelve garment workers and trade union activists who were charged with extortion and terrorism before the Anti-Terrorism Court were acquitted on August 29, 2014 after a two-year trial. It was hoped that the judgment would set a precedent for the respect for human and labour rights in Pakistan.
Trade unionism = terrorism?
In 2012 the twelve garment workers and trade union activists of the Power Loom Mazdoor Union (PLMU) were charged with extortion and terrorism under the Pakistani Anti-Terrorist Act. Six of them were arrested and severely tortured. Although they have been released on bail, the trial against the twelve is still going on, with over 100 court hearings to date.
The charges against the workers under the Anti-Terrorist Act are believed to be due to their trade union activities at subsidiaries of Al Karam Textile Mills. The twelve were accused by the factory management shortly after they had created their new trade union.
The trial has been going on for more than two years now. The accused workers have been facing numerous administrative hearings, postponements of hearings, prosecutors or judges not showing up in court and uncooperative factory management. Over a hundred hearings have taken place, putting an enormous strain on the accused workers. Since they have to appear in court for every hearing, they are unable to find or keep a job as a consequence. A petition for a counter case was filed at the High Court of Sindh, but was rejected in September 2012.
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is working together with the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) of Pakistan to support the workers. CCC is bringing the trial to the attention of European Union delegates in Pakistan. CCC also successfully urged for a meeting between the EU Delegation to Pakistan and the general secretary of the NTUF after the National Conference of Textile and Garment Workers held in April 2014 organised by the NTUF.