LAHORE: Commuters continued to suffer for the second day on Monday as both the Pakistan Railways (PR) administration and the train drivers remained stuck to their stances, resulting in two to eight hours behind the schedule arrival and departure of all major trains.

The drivers had announced calling off their strike on Sunday evening while agreeing to come to the table for a dialogue on Monday, provided the countrywide raids being conducted by railway police to nab office-bearers of All-Pakistan Train Drivers Association be stopped.

However, a statement attributed to Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafique by a section of the media turned the situation altogether. The minister had reportedly said that the railway administration would sack all such drivers who would not resume duty.

A railway spokesman added fuel to the fire by claiming that the train drivers didn’t call off their strike. “In fact, the (railways) administration foiled some drivers’ bid in this regard by taking timely action,” said the spokesman while regretting that the matter has been politicised.

“The criticism by leaders of some political parties of lodging cases against the drivers who put the lives of passengers in danger by stopping trains at odd hours in deserted areas is beyond comprehension. Such statements by political leaders are nothing but expression of their anti-masses mindset. Had the families of these leaders remained in deserted areas during night, their response to lodging cases against striking drivers would have been different.

“The doors of railway high-ups are always open for every employee desirous of getting his or her grievance redressed through peaceful means,” said the railways spokesman in a statement.

The All-Pakistan Train Drivers Association reiterated that the strike had been called off on Sunday.

“Unlike other modes of transport, trains continue running round the clock and in all weather conditions. Drivers are the front line employees of railways and no railway can be operated without drivers but yet they have constantly been ignored. Instead of giving us a patient hearing and redress our grievances, the railway administration adopted measures that might worsen the situation,” an office-bearer of the association told Dawn by phone.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2017

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