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Pakistan: Sindh High Court ruled that the ban on teacher unions is illegal

On 12 Dec 2006, the High Court of the Sindh province in Pakistan ruled in favour of the Sindh Primary Teachers' Association in a case against the provincial government's ban on all activities carried out by teacher unions. The Court declared the government's ban "unlawful and of no legal effect".

The Sindh Primary Teachers Association is a member of an EI affiliate in Pakistan, the Pakistan Teacher Organisation Coucil (PTOC). EI had received information regarding a ban on teachers' unions imposed by the Sindh provincial government on 21 Jul 2006. Since then, at least 34 teachers were reportedly sent on forced leave and their salaries have been discontinued. A further 150 teachers are allegedly being threatened with dismissal by the Sindh government. During the protest against the imposing ban on 22 Aug, about 50 teachers were arrested and a dozen others were injured by the police who attacked protesters with teargas and batons. The Sindh government further suppresses the teachers constantly protesting against the ban. It is reported that the purpose of the ban on the teacher unions is actually related to the privatisation of the government schools. All the lessons at the schools and colleges in Sindh had stopped as teachers were demonstrating. On 24 Aug, schools and colleges throughout the whole Sindh province were closed in response to a call to observe a black day against the ban. On this day, the teachers also demanded the release of all teachers detained on 22 Aug. Student unions also supported this boycott and participated in the struggle. Except for the Sindh provincial government, the Pakistan federal government and other provincial governments have not banned teachers' associations. However, Sindh Education Minister Dr. Hamida Khuhro has announced on 14 Dec that the Sindh government would challenge the Sindh High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court. It would first seek a stay order from the Supreme Court against the High Court’s judgement. The Minister said that all the employees of the Sindh Ministry of Education, including teaching staff, are civil servants and the terms and conditions of their employment are regulated under the Sindh Civil Servants Act, 1973. It also maintained that there is (also) no provision in the Societies Registration Act 1860 and the Voluntary Welfare and Voluntary Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 for the registration of civil servants’ unions or associations in the province. EI reminds the Sindh government that Pakistan ratified the ILO Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise in 1951 and Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining in 1952. The ban violated Article 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which guarantees and protects the citizens' freedom of association and assembly, freedom of speech and expression and non-discrimination. For more details about the ban, please visit the sites listed below.

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