LUMS students banded together on Saturday (April 20) to protest along janitorial staff at the university for their salaries ahead of Easter. Ultimately, the staff received their salaries.
The janitorial staff outsourced to LUMS by MBM, a janitorial and building services company in Lahore, wanted to be paid before the Easter break. They were given just Rs2,000 instead of the Rs10,000 they were promised, so they staged a protest. Students of the university joined in and drafted a charter of demands for the protesting workers. They also brought them water, juice and food.
As a result of the workers were paid the Rs10,000.
The charter of demands has 23 points. Its short-term demands were that the workers be paid the Rs10,000 due to them, as well as the salaries of the days they had worked that month. Other short-term demands included the immediate release of withheld payments of some workers and the reinstatement of Asma Sharif, a worker who had been transferred because she received financial help from a student to treat the Hepatitis C she had contracted.
Their long-term demands include that MBM workers be made permanent employees and get all the benefits associated with it, that LUMS develop its own Labour Code, an end to out-sourced employment, yearly wage increases, job security and clarity in the workers’ jobs.
They also want daycare facilities, transportation, health benefits and days off on public holidays.
The students rallied to the call of their brethren workers, together we managed to get all the immediate demands accepted, drafted 15 long term demands that will be pursued until met. Including paid maternity leaves and permanent employment.
Zinda hein worker! #PayLUMSWorkers pic.twitter.com/OhaeHEQt9A
— Yahya (@__erebus) April 21, 2019
“Yesterday I witnessed the most touching scenes I’ve seen since I’ve been a professor at LUMS,” Taimur Rehman, a teacher at the varsity, said in a Facebook post. “The janitorial staff staged a sit in to be paid before Easter break. While they staged the sit in, students not only sat with them, but they pooled money to buy them water, juice, and food,” he wrote.
“I was so moved you could have knocked me down with a feather. As you can imagine, I’ve been to uncountable strikes and protests. Very rarely have I seen people who come from privilege really care for striking workers. The press treats them like a nuisance. The police treat them like criminals. The community treats them with indifference.
“But yesterday I saw something rare and beautiful. Students whom I cynically thought wouldn’t care about such issues did all they could for the staff who works for them. Yesterday these striking janitors and students broke down my walls of cynicism. Yesterday they taught me something: The power of solidarity.”