Chennai: A senior officer of Southern Railway, known or his no-nonsense and straightforward approach, has been transferred, allegedly due to strong-arm tactics adopted by the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU). SRMU claims to be the sole recognised employee union of the zonal railway .
B Ravichander, an Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) cadre officer who is senior divisional commercial manager (Sr DCM) of Chennai division, has had frequent run-ins with the union during his one year tenure. In an order issued on January 12, he has been posted as the chief public relations officer (CPRO) of the zone and the serving CPRO has been posted as senior divisional commercial manager. However, neither of hem has taken charge.
The tipping point of Ravichander’s feud with SRMU was in May last year when he unearthed a racket in the ticket-checking department where many employees had engaged proxies. His orders against the erring staff were overruled by the general manager’s office and personnel department, allegedly under pressure from the union. Sources said the union has been trying to dislodge Ravichander, as he insisted on a greater output from employees, many of whom remained inactive and demotivated. “Employees used to lazing around had an axe to grind. Ravichander was very particular that passenger amenities and comfort shouldn’t be spoiled due to administrative oversight,” said an SRMU member.
Officials and SRMU insiders privy to the issue said the union orchestrated a protest against Ravichander in November last year.Around 30 Southern Railway employees, including women entered Ravichander’s room, raising slogans.An eyewitness recalled that foul language was used against the officer.
The decision to transfer Ravichander has demotivated many officers in Southern Railway as they feel the administration has buckled under the union’s pressure. “Now railway officers will think twice before enforcing rules at the workplace as their higher-ups are not supporting them. Also, this doesn’t send the right message to youngsters who want to join administrative services,” an official said.
SRMU vice-president Raja Sridhar, however, said the union had nothing to do with the transfer. “He did not meet the GM’s target and hence was transferred,” he said.