Rail Bachao Ittehad stages protest rally in Lahore
LAHORE (March 20, 2012): Workers of Pakistan Railways (PR) from its seven divisions stage a protest on Tuesday at Railways Headquarters Lahore.
The protesters warned the Railways administration and the government to constant negligence of the PR affairs if railways collapse, which will result not only in serious labour unrest but also irreversible losses to ordinary working class across the country, who are rely on railway the institution for transportation.
Speaking on the occasion, Railway Workers Union President Aashiq Chaudhry said that the ‘restructuring’ agenda of the international financial institutions (IFIs) has completely failed despite the induction of highly paid private-sector professionals into Pakistan Railways.
The institution has not only retreated from its subsidised consumer travel to under serviced areas but the overall performance has also deteriorated.
He said that conditions are being deliberately created to pave the way for Railways’ privatisation.
Manzoor Razi said that in fact the revival of Pakistan Railways requires a rejection of IFI policies alongside a revival of the institution’s cargo and freight service.
He said that Railways was an extremely profitable organisation until the 1980s when the National Logistics Cell was created under General Saeed Qadir, which steadily captured all of Railways’ cargo and freight business. “It was this cargo and freight business, which allowed Railways to subsidies consumer travel and the continuing monopoly of the NLC on cargo-freight business across Pakistan spells disaster for not only PRs but other public sector enterprises too”, he added.
Manzoor said that the military should focus on its constitutionally mandated role and stop destroying the country’s economy and public sector institutions for its own interests.
Professor Aasim Sajjad, Ishtiaq Aasi, Siddique Baig and Junaid Awan, speaking on the occasion said that the Railways administration is not at all serious in extricating the institution from financial crisis.
They said that in such a situation workers are left with no option but to resort to protests and strikes even though the serious trade union leadership in Pakistan Railways understands that it is in the interests of the anti-Railway lobby for the institution to be paralysed.
The Rail Bachao Ittehad leadership warned the government not to waste time on slogans need to take action immediately, not at the behest of the IFIs, but in the interest of Railway.
They said that if serious action will not be taken by the summer months, the Rail Bachao Ittehad will give a complete strike call.
The protest rally was convened by the Rail Bachao Ittehad, which features the Railway Workers Union (Open Line), PREM Union and Railway Mehnatkash Union. Protested started from Railway Station Lahore and reached at Headquarters.