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LAHORE, Jan 14: The Pakistan Railway (PR) Employees Prem Union and the Railway Workers Union (Open Line) have rejected a reported plan to shut 39 passenger trains and sacking of 20,000 workers.

Prem Union Vice-President Sheikh Muhammad Anwar warned the higher authorities that the workers would halt all trains across the country if the government sacked 20,000 railways workers and curtail further 39 so-called uneconomical passenger trains.

He also condemned PR decision to raise 25 per cent of rail fair and said that the people having vested interests were hedging a conspiracy against PR workers and paving way for its privatisation.At a press conference on Friday at Prem union office, Mr Anwar said that PR general manager Ashfaq Khattak was allegedly involved in planning the conspiracy against workers.

Mr Anwar was flanked by other union leaders including, Saghir Ahmed Cheema, Khalid Mehmood Chaudhry, Qazi Abdul Wadood, Iftikhar Ali Khan, Mehmoodul Ahad, Qazi Abdul Wadood, Mian Amjad Nadeem, Abdul Jabbar, Mohammad Tufail, Mansoor Safri and Malik Jamil.

“He (the GM) wants to curtail trains up to 50 per cent and then start downsizing of workers by taking plea that over overcrowded workers are burden on the department,” he said.

He also warned that PR labourers would not let the ministry allow doing so. He said that it was need of the hour to stop corruption in the PR instead downsizing or suspending operations of the department.Mr Anwar suggested the government identify and capture the corrupt bureaucrats, curtail unnecessary expenditures and inject money like it gave to the PIA and other national institutions instead of tracking off trains to meet the deficit the PR was facing.

Also, the Railway Workers Union (Open Line) rejected increase in fares planned lays off.

The union warned that if the 'revival' of railways continued to be made contingent on such blatantly anti-worker steps, there would soon be open confrontation between workers and the administration.

RWU Chairman Manzoor Razi, Secretary-General Naseem Rao and President Ashiq Chaudhry in their statements lamented that in repeated meetings with the Railways administration, workers were given commitments that all attempts to revive the organisation would be made in consensus with the employees.

The RWU office-bearers demanded the elected government answer for its refusal to fully revive trade union activities in railways and other public sector organisations even though it has been three years since it took power since three years.

They said that 20,000 workers being sacked for dismissal cost were next to nothing in comparison to the dozens of management officials earning hefty salaries and other perks and benefits.

They said these officials were completely unaccountable because they are implementing the agenda of international financial institutions to privatise the organisation.