The labour unions of the Pakistan Railways Karachi Division have formed an alliance called the Rail Bachao Ittehad against privatisation, downsizing and corruption in the company.
The alliance is made up of five unions and five associations.
They launched their movement from the Karachi Cantt Station on Tuesday.
The participants held flags of their unions with placards and banners, and shouted slogans against the railway management.
The central chairman of the Railway Workers Union (RWU), Manzur Ahmed Razi, said that the method of privatisation used by the government will not be fruitful. “We have rail tracks. The industrialists or anyone else who is interested should bring new locomotives and staff and run them on the existing tracks They should try to compete with the government’s service and provide better facilities.” he said. “When you use our engines, carriages and tracks, collect ticket money from the people and give some of the amount to the ministry it is not privatisation.”
Junaid Awan of the Railway Workers Union demanded a referendum and the dismissal of the federal minister and general manager of the Pakistan Railways. “It is shameful that an institution which fed 2.5 million families of the country is collapsing and the government is not doing anything to save it,” he said.
A head clerk, Manzoor Hussain, was present with a green flag in his hands. “I am a head clerk and we have not received any stationery for the past two years,” he said. “We have no attendance registers and attendance reports.” According to him, all the railways departments were in the same condition.
“We gathered here to save our source of income, our children’s education and the means of transport for thousands of people,” added Hussain.
The alliance includes the Workers Union, Mazdoor Union, Mehnat Kash Union, Prem Union (Aasi Group), Traffic Yard Staff Association, Labour Division, Guards Association, Commercial Association, Loco Running Association and Carriage Association.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.