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Railway operations resumed after remaining suspended overnight

24 July, 2017

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KARACHI/SUKKUR/ LAHORE: Minister of Railways Saad Rafique on Sunday said that railway operations in various parts of the country had resumed after remaining suspended overnight.

Around 276 train drivers had stopped their locomotives on the tracks after the Train Drivers Welfare Association called for an ‘indefinite strike’ to press demands, which included upgrading pay scales of railway employees, paying overtime wages and distance allowance and reinstatement of sacked drivers. Addressing a press conference, the minister said that the ‘irresponsibility’ of the drivers participating in the strike had caused problems for the passengers, adding that the strike had upset the train schedule. The minister said that the drivers’ demands regarding pay scales would be considered. The other demands, however, were dismissed saying four out of six demands have already been accepted. He pointed out that in the last budget, the government raised salary of all civil servants by 10%.

Regarding the drivers’ demand for the reinstatement of sacked colleagues, the minister said that it was not possible because they had been fired after a number of lives were lost in accidents due to their negligence. “No trains are suspended due to the strike right now,” said the minister, adding that those not turning up for duty would have to go home.

Kh Saad Rafique expressed hope that all railways operations will be back to normal within 48 hours. He invited the protesting drivers to return to their duty and offered to negotiate. “Those who do not return to work will be going home,” he warned, adding 13 protesting drivers had already been arrested. He warned that cases would be registered against them under anti-terrorism laws.

The minister stated that the strike, called by train drivers, failed due to the cooperation of railway employees. He stated that the bid for shutting down his institution has been foiled. He thanked those train drivers who did not go on strike. “The passengers had to face problems due to the strike called by irresponsible drivers,” he said. According to reports from Karachi, Sukkur, Lahore and Rawalpindi stations, the trains were late as long as six hours on Sunday morning but with the passage of time as the Railways authorities engaged contract and retired drivers, the operation started and trains resumed their journeys after several hours of delay.

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