Once considered as one of the most efficient public sector business venture, Pakistan Railways (PR) is in tatters today. Despite the lofty claims Railways Minister has made, the recent call for strike shows the dark side of the picture. The workers of the organisation have gone on strike until their demands are met.
It is important to note that workers of PR have some genuine demands that the government should accept. The demands are long overdue. The demands include personnel up-gradation, increase in salaries, rise in pensions and medical allowances of retired staffs. In a meeting held a month ago, the Minister promised the workers that their demands would be met. However, he has failed in fulfilling his promise so far. The ministry claims that it has achieved its target of 36 billion rupees. Assuming that the institution is on the right track, not awarding workers the gains of the success is unfair.
A majority of the department’s workforce finds it hard to meet the ends in the salaries they are getting presently. It is true that they are not well paid. The strike of the workers indicates that top management has no idea of the sufferings of the lower staff. It is also an indication of the fact that the bureaucracy has no comprehensive plan to deal with issues that Pakistan Railways is facing. While the government is spending money to refurbish the face of the Pakistan Railways, it’s sad to know that its workers do not enjoy any kind of relief.
Commenting on one of the demands, the PR spokesperson argued that the department would not restore drivers involved in accidents and loss of human lives. However, it seems that the drivers are made scapegoats to cover up institutional failures. If drivers are really responsible for accidents and loss of human lives, just sacking them is no punishment for such acts of negligence.
Along with little attention from the state, poor policies, mismanagement of expenses and funds, nepotism and political interference in the affairs of the department have ruined the organisation. The concerned authorities should address the structural and administrative failures of the department. If management fails to address the issues that PR is facing, a time will come when the public will be deprived of the cheapest mode of transportation. It is about time to meet the demands of the railway workers. The workers should enjoy the fruit of the targets that Pakistan Railways have achieved recently.