The members of the Rail Bachao Ittehad (RBI), an alliance of various Pakistan Railways labour unions, warned of a wheel-jam strike across the country if the management does not accept their demands within a few days.
The RBI leaders demanded that the technical staff of all departments, including Loco Shed Shop, Telecom, Gangmen, Guards and Train Clerks, should be promoted and also be provided technical and operational allowances.
The RBI held a protest at the Karachi City Station on Tuesday and shouted slogans for the restoration of their rights and against the privatisation of the Railways. “Inflation is on the rise and we are still working on the pay scales established by the British. We can’t survive in this market with this pay,” said Syed Ali Shah, a leader of the Pakistan Railways Employees (Prem) Union. “This is a token strike and is being conducted at every station across the country by the RBI. But if our demands are not accepted, all railway activities will be stopped.”
Manzoor Ahmed Mallah of the Railway Mehnatkash Union said that the Railway should be given a bailout package by the government. “We want a peaceful solution to our problems but the system will force us to observe a wheel-jam strike by not meeting our demands.” Mallah lashed out at the Railways minister, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, for not being able to handle the establishment and said that he should be removed from the post.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.