From the Editor-in-Chief: The transport strike should not have happened

Enayetullah Khan
Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
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The wildcat strike called by transport owners and workers across the country came to an end last week. Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, who rather incongruously is a leading figure in transport unionism, informed the country that assurances had been given by the government about a satisfactory solution to the issue. The ministerial pronouncement is quite disturbing since the minister himself is part of the government and yet has also been playing a significant role in the move by transport owners and workers to call a halt to their work following recent verdicts by the courts on drivers charged with reckless driving leading to murder.

 

The strike raised hackles nearly everywhere. Even former president Hussein Muhammad Ershad had to ask the government to be tough on the striking owners and workers because of the difficulties they had caused citizens by going on strike. By resorting to the strike, the transport owners and workers not only caused significant disruption to the lives of ordinary people but also demonstrated a brazen contempt for the courts.

 

Any move on the part of the authorities that could be seen as capitulation before the workers would in essence go against the principle of rule of law. Every time the government, any government, submits to pressure of an organized yet illegal kind, it leads to a bad precedent being created for the future. Matters are then made easier for people like these transport owners and workers to take the government and the people of the country hostage.

 

We are not aware of the details of how the decision for the strike to be lifted was taken. If the withdrawal of the strike was a result of pressure and if no importance was given to the judicial verdicts against reckless and rash driving in these past few days, we will be properly concerned.

 

As citizens, all of us suffered through the illegal strike called by transport owners and workers. The pain, now that the strike has been withdrawn in what appears to be questionable circumstances, is now more intense for us. We know, to our intense discomfort, that we are hostages to the whims of the transport owners and workers. This strike could have been a moment for the government to demonstrate its firmness of purpose by refusing to entertain the illogical demands of the strikers. That moment, it seems, came and went quickly. It was an opportunity lost.

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