In a demonstration of frustration and financial hardship, Pakistan Railway workers staged a protest over unpaid salaries on Tuesday at the Rawalpindi Railway Station, causing a disruption in train services for over two hours. The workers, who claim they have not received their salaries for two consecutive months, brought train operations to a temporary standstill, leaving thousands of passengers inconvenienced.
Protest Over Unpaid Salaries – Trains Halted
The protest over unpaid salaries saw a halt in train services, affecting several key routes. Trains that were stopped at the Rawalpindi Railway Station included the Rehman Baba Express, Hazara Express, Kohat Express, and Green Line Express. Passengers found themselves stuck and faced with unexpected difficulties as a result of the disruption.
The protest over unpaid salaries was organized and led by the Carriage and Wagon Staff Association of Pakistan Railways office-bearers and leaders of the Labour Alliance. Prominent figures among the demonstrators included Shaukat Ali Awan, Dr. Babar Khan Qadri, Raja Khalid, Waseem Shah, and Shaukat Khan Jadoon.
Addressing the gathered crowd, the leaders expressed their grievances, emphasizing the dire financial conditions that railway workers are currently facing. They revealed that the non-payment of salaries for two months has pushed many workers into poverty, making it increasingly difficult for them to cover essential expenses, such as school fees, electricity and gas bills, purchasing medicines, and even daily necessities.
The leaders also highlighted the toll of inflation on the workers’ finances and disclosed that they were resorting to borrowing money from friends and family to make ends meet.
The protest leaders issued a warning that if the workers’ salaries are not paid promptly, they would escalate their actions by stopping train operations across the country, potentially leading to widespread travel disruptions.
Following negotiations between the workers’ representatives and railway management, the protest over unpaid salaries was called off. The management made a commitment to disburse the pending salaries within the next two days.
In response to the situation, Pakistan Railways Divisional Superintendent Inamullah clarified that while there had been a delay in salary payments, it was not accurate to claim that the workers had gone unpaid for two months. He stated that Pakistan Railways typically disbursed salaries in the third week of each month due to ongoing financial constraints. Inamullah noted that the delay was affecting not only the laborers but all railway employees.
The superintendent attributed the protest over unpaid salaries to the railway workers’ demand for their salaries to be paid through the federal government, similar to other government employees. He highlighted that since 1947, Pakistan Railways had operated under the practice of earning money through its train services and then paying its employees.
Inamullah reassured the workers that the financial issues were being addressed, and salaries would be paid on time in the near future. He also confirmed that the grievances of the workers had been conveyed to the higher authorities of Pakistan Railways and the government for their consideration.