Centre not going to Privatize the Indian Railways: MOSR Sinha

BONGAIGAON: The 93rd annual convention of All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) started from Wednesday in Gorakhpur city of Uttar Pradesh with a two-day long programme.  The programme started with a women’s conference which had been followed by AIRF working committee meeting. A procession throughout the city was taken out which culminated in Sayed Modi Railway Stadium of Gorakhpur.

In the mass meeting, several noted persons like Manoj Sinha, Union Minister of State for Railways, Stephene Cotton, general secretary, International Transport Workers Federation, Noel Coard, Head of Inland Transport Section, ITF, Backer Kundajki, Youth  Coordinator, ITF, Rakhal Das Gupta, president AIRF, and Shib Gopal Mishra, general secretary, AIRF, were present.

Addressing the gathering, Manoj Sinha said that the government was not going to privatize the Railway department. “But we have to upgrade the department as per requirement of our consumers and hence we need the help of Railway employees,” he said. Shib Gopal Mishra said the tough times had started and hence all the labour class people should be united. Stephene Cotton also appealed to people to be united for the rights of labour class people.

More than 30,000 delegates from all over India and also from other countries are taking part in this convention. N F Railway Mazdoor Union has also taken part in this convention with more than 1,000 delegates.

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Railways orders Enquiry in Rivalry leading to Train Delays

Due to rivalry between the two railway zones to maintain a better punctuality record, half a dozen express trains were kept waiting for the green signal on the outer circle of Palwal, 85km from New Delhi, on the Nizamuddin-Agra route from 4:15pm to 5:30pm.  Two organisations — All India Train Controllers’ Associations and Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organisation — confirmed that trains are halted at interchanging points between two zones due to such rivalries.

NEW DELHI: The Railway Board has asked senior officials of the two zones, Northern Railway (NR) and North Central Railway (NCR), to investigate and find out officers responsible for halting more than half a dozen trains on November 8 at the outer circle of Palwal Railway Station.

Due to rivalry between the two railway zones in order to maintain a better punctuality record, half a dozen express trains were kept waiting for the green signal on the outer circle of Palwal, 85km from New Delhi, on the Nizamuddin-Agra route from 4:15pm to 5: 30pm.

“The Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal, viewed the incident as a serious one and asked for an urgent report,” said a close source in the Railway Board.

Railway sources had informed that NR’s Delhi division deliberately halted trains under the NCR zones to dent its punctuality record.

Two organisations — All India Train Controllers’ Associations and Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organisation — confirmed that trains are halted at interchanging points between two zones due to such rivalries.

In another case, a goods train, the SBLT Special – running between Jhansi and Jodhpur — was halted for 11 hours on November 8 from 10.15 on Wednesday night to 9am on Thursday, at Utawar station near Alwar as NWR allegedly refused to enter the train in its zone due to a similar reason.

In 2002, former railway minister Nitish Kumar had increased the number of zones from nine to 16 to strengthen railway operations and administrative control.

“Interchange punctuality is a good initiative towards operational efficiency but the purpose seems partially defeated if ego or inter zone competition become unhealthy and starts affecting overall efficiency, like incidents in Palwal or Utawar,” said Sanjay Pandhi, working president, Indian Railway Loco Running Men Organisation.

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Railways new pension scheme not workable: AIRF

PUNE: The market-linked pension scheme would have 10 per cent contributory fund by Government and 10 per cent by the employees. In this, Government knows the money is being used, but the employee does not have any information regarding the use of its funds, said AIRF General Secretary, Shivagopal Mishra

The Government of India, in its different departments, has recruited over 5 lakh employees since 2004, including one lakh employees in the Indian Railways. The new officials and employees, recruited under the new pension scheme are not finding the new scheme workable.

The market-linked pension scheme would have 10 per cent contributory fund by Government and 10 per cent by the employees. In this, Government knows the money is being used, but the employee does not have any information regarding the use of its funds, said AIRF General Secretary, Shivagopal Mishra while addressing the press conference on Tuesday at the West Central Railway Employees’ Union (WCREU) office. He is in city to attend the Youth Zonal Conference of WCREU.

He added that the new pension scheme has various lapses. First, it is market-linked and has limited provisions for withdrawal. Its provision is against employee’s benefits that is benefits provisions would end if the service is not complete. On this issue, when the AIRF gave a notice of strike to the Government, the present Government constituted a committee to review the demands of AIRF. “We are demanding guarantee pension scheme for the employees that is 50 per cent of last salary. On death or permanent disability of the employee, the compensation should be given as per old scheme. On this, the Government has shown some positive response, while also, the committee constituted has given recommendations in this direction, asking the Government to accept this demand,” he said.

He further said that, every year, around 400 to 500 employees die on duty. In these incidents, a number of linemen and trackmen lose their lives. We are demanding that like the Indian Army has been exempted from the new scheme, the Indian Railways employees and officials should be exempted from the new pension scheme provisions.

Commenting on the outsourcing trending in Railways, Mishra strongly criticized the ongoing outsourcing and said that outsourcing of important works in Railways would not be tolerated. We are demand the Government to fill all 1.25 lakh vacancies in safety and security departments, as without manpower of Railways, proper instrumentation and equipment, the security of Railways is not possible, he added.

After recent incidents, the Government has ordered to fill all vacancies in Railways and now, following pressure, now again the decision is being reviewed. He lastly added that if Railways does not have any option for privatisation of every work, the AIRF would have no other option left, but to go on strike. He said, Railways is the lifeline of country’s economy. If we go on strike, it would add fuel to the ongoing impact of recession in the country.

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Assam Rail Passengers’ Association demands separate Railway Zone for NE

GUWAHATI: Alleging neglect by the Railway authorities towards the Northeast, the Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) has called upon the senior officials of the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to take initiative and send recommendations to New Delhi for bifurcation of the railway zone. ARPA secretary Dipankar Sharma said the railway infrastructure in the region will not improve till the NF Railway is bifurcated and a separate zone exclusively for the seven Northeastern States is constituted.

Over the years, there have been allegations that the areas falling in Bihar and West Bengal take away the major chunk of funds and projects earmarked for the NFR and that the Northeastern youth are also deprived of their rightful share of jobs in the Railways.

“There is marked lack of interest among railway officials for the development of the Northeast. It is high time that senior NFR officials should show their commitment to this region and send a request to the Railway Ministry for bifurcation of the zone and for setting up a separate zone dedicated exclusively for the Northeast,” said Sharma.

He further alleged that a section of senior NF Railway officials had in the past “conspired” to prevent any bifurcation of the zone.

Interestingly, during his visit to Guwahati in May this year, former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the Ministry would look into the issue of bifurcation. However, nothing has moved since then and Prabhu himself was moved out of the Railway Ministry during the last reshuffle in the Central government.

“Let the NFR officials speak out on behalf of the people of the Northeast. Let them give a formal proposal to the Railway Ministry for the bifurcation of NFR. How long will the people of the Northeast suffer from deprivation?” said Sharma.

The ARPA has also slammed the State government for being silent on the railway-related matters.

Loco Pilots on Thiruvananthapuram Division opt for Voluntary Retirement Scheme, Railways in Crisis

Thiruvananthapuram: An increasing number of locopilots are opting for voluntary retirement or requesting for deployment in other departments on medical grounds after they are forced to work without “rest days” as the Thiruvananthapuram division is facing an acute shortage of personnel.  The latest instance was the voluntary retirement opted by two locopilots of Kollam depot the other day– Joseph Sebastian and Santosh Philip– despite having nearly six years of service left. “Though the retirement age is 60, many are opting for the scheme “very early.” Now there are several other VRS requests pending with the authorities. In the last five years, over 20 among us have requested to be relieved from the duty on medical grounds,” said  Mr L. Mony, central president, All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA).

He alleged  that the refusal of the authorities to fill up vacancies had  “overburdened” the existing lot. “However, the authorities are trying to implement a new duty roster for loco-pilots as a desperate measure to tide over the personnel shortage issue– nearly 15 per cent vacancies– instead of conducting recruitment and training of new candidates,” he said.    When contacted, a senior railway officer said the new duty roster would ensure that each of the 101 loco-pilots in the division could be deployed strategically and their services would be availed of to the maximum. “Now onwards, the loco-pilots cannot do ‘adjustment’ duties and have to complete the target kilometers,” he said.

“We’re not being  given rest day like that provided to the rest of the staff. Many could return to the ‘original’ station only on the third day after logging in,” said another loco-pilot on the condition of anonymity.   Currently, there are 37 vacancies of locopilots remaining vacant in the division, which has added new trains like Palaruvi Express and weekly long-haul ones that required services of an additional seven set crew on a war-footing.

Northern Railwaymen’s Union alleges Indian Railways ignoring Repair Work

The union’s General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said in a press conference that they had serious concerns over railway safety works and flagged a number of issues related to personnel and maintenance.

NEW DELHI: The Northern Railwaymen’s Union alleged that the Railways were not carrying out maintenance and repair work in a timely manner and ignoring unsafe operations, charges that come in the backdrop of several high-profile train derailments.

The union’s General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said in a press conference that they had serious concerns over railway safety works and flagged a number of issues related to personnel and maintenance.

“It is pertinent for operational safety that necessary equipments, important machine parts and trained employees are available in required numbers in a timely manner.

“However, unfortunately, over time the increase in number of trains and the pressure of rising traffic has led to the non-availability of timely blocks for maintenance and repair work. In fact, because of this even unsafe railway operations are being ignored,” said a statement issued by the union.

Mishra said that due to a shortage of rail staff and the equipments, renewal of old tracks and track repair work was not being done in a time-bound manner.

He said the railways should call back the 30,000 odd staff employed at officials’ homes doing household work.

“Many of them are trackmen. The CRB had also instructed that they be relieved and sent to official rail duty. This has also caused shortage of staff,” he said.

Blaming the recent train derailments on lack of maintenance, Mishra said that the railways’ decision to not hire staff over the past two years besides shortage in necessary equipment are the reasons behind rail accidents.

“If there are problems in rail safety then rail employees cannot be made responsible for the incidents,” he said.

The union’s general secretary claimed that the railways had violated the natural course of justice by sacking 13 men after the Khatauli accident in August without an inquiry.

“As per railway manual 14(ii) it’s unconstitutional to dismiss employees without enquiry. In this incident, these men were summarily sacked without any such probe.

He also raised serious concerns over outsourcing of railway safety work to private contractors and said that the employees on hire didn’t have the technical knowledge to do the work.

There was no immediate reaction from the railways.

Over the past three months, the public transporter has been struggling with a slew of accidents, the worst being the one on August 19 in which at least 23 people were killed and 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district.

On September 29, safety concerns were raised again when a stampede at a foot-over-bridge in Mumbai led to the deaths of 23 people.

Railway Contractors’ strike to have direct impact on Train Safety

Railways contractors strike work including track maintenance. Though the work has come to a halt at under-construction bridges, the worst affected are the railway tracks whose maintenance has been outsourced to private contractors. Is passenger safety being compromised?
Indian Railways contractors are protesting against government’s decision to impose 12 per cent GST on services by way of construction, erection, commissioning and installation with retrospective effect.

Over 90 per cent of the 10,000 odd contractors associated with the Indian Railways stopped working 10 days ago protesting against the government’s decision to impose 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on services by way of construction, erection, commissioning and installation with retrospective effect. Though the work has come to a halt at under-construction bridges and other infrastructure projects, the worst affected are the railway tracks whose maintenance has been outsourced to private contractors.

Ashok Ahuja, Secretary of the Railway Contractors Association, said, “We do not have any problem with GST. In fact, we welcomed its imposition on July 1 but the government is charging 12 per cent GST from us in contracts that were awarded before July 1, 2012”.

“We work on a margin of four to five per cent but the government is now, all of a sudden, asking for 12 per cent tax on contracts that were awarded before July 1, 2017. Where will the contractor pay this tax from,” said Ahuja.

The union government in its order dated June 20, 2012 had exempted services provided by contractors by way of construction, erection, commissioning and installation to the Indian Railway from any kind of service tax. With the imposition of GST, 12 per cent tax is being charged on these services but contractors have stopped all work saying they would rather not take any fresh payment from the Railways.

The railways has outsourced a major portion of its track maintenance work to contractors which has also been stopped in most parts of the country. “Track maintenance is directly linked with safety of railway passengers but it seems no-one in the railways is bothered. We are, in fact, waiting for another tragedy to happen as most track maintenance works are not being carried out,” a railway contractor, who has stopped track maintenance work on the Bhopal-Ramganj Mandi line, told.

The association of railway contractors met Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu few days back but received only assurance. Newly appointed railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani was also approached but there has been no positive outcome.

A major impact is also being felt by the 3 lakh odd daily wage workers who work for the striking railway contractors across the country.

IRIPA strike disrupts ongoing Railway works

Members of Indian Railways Infrastructure Providers Association staging a protest at Sanchalan Bhavan in Secunderabad on Wednesday

Hyderabad: Members of the Indian Railway Infrastructure Providers Association (IRIPA) have been on an indefinite strike since August 20 protesting against the imposition of the GST.

The Association’s demands include reimbursement of additional burden imposed by the GST for the works tendered before July 1, 2017. The Association is also asking the government to bear the GST being the end service receiver for tenders after July 1, 2017.

The IRIPA alleged that reimbursement was given in all other sectors, including the subsidiaries of Indian Railways such as Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) but it has not been extended to the 6,500 odd railway contractors across the country.

The volume of works across the Indian Railways is about Rs one lakh crore and about Rs 4,000 crore worth works are underway in the SCR that were tendered before the implementation of GST. The IRIPA have been striking in 72 divisions in 16 zones.

Rival Railway Unions fight over recognition in Chennai

CHENNAI: An argument over ‘recognition’ between members of two rival unions of Southern Railway resulted in a brawl on Tuesday, which left three injured. The incident is said to have happened at around 3.30 pm at Perambur carriage works, when a visiting high ranking official from the Railway Board was to be received.

Several railway employees, including members from both Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) and Southern Railway Employees Sangh (SRES), were there to receive the official.

SRMU, led by N Kanniah, is the sole recognised employee union in Southern Railways following an election. However, there are several other unions which fight for the welfare of employees.

According to sources, members of SRMU questioned the presence of employees belonging to SRES at the ceremony to welcome the railway official. SRES is not recognised, according to the SRMU and the former took offence at this. A verbal exchange erupted leading to fist fight out between the two groups.

All the three injured, belonging to SRMU, were said to have suffered cuts and bruises. One of them, Rajendran, a retired employee is an SRMU office bearer. Two others were identified as Selvaraj and Prithiviraj.

They were taken to the Railway Hospital in Aynavaram for treatment.

According to ICF police, there have been frequent tensions between members of the two rival unions. “We have received complaints from both sides. They often fight among themselves due to prior enmity, but used to settle their differences through mutual discussions,” a police official said.

Railway officials fear that the incident, which happened in the presence of RB Member (Rolling Stock) Ravindra Gupta, who was inspecting carriage works, might harm the image of Southern Railway. It is learnt that an official enquiry would be conducted by the mechanical department to punish those involved. Officials from both unions could not be reached for comment.

INTUC opposes plan to lease Railway land for Project to develop Kozhikode station

KOZHIKODE: The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has opposed the move to lease out land belonging to the Railways for the development of the Kozhikode railway station.

At a press meet here on Sunday, INTUC national president G. Sanjeeva Reddy said they would oppose any move that was against the interests of the workers.

‘Stall development’

“If land is leased out to a private party, there is no chance for the expansion of the railway station. It will stall the prospects of the future development of the station,” he said.

INTUC State president R. Chandrasekharan, denied having any knowledge about the proposal, a pet project of Congress MP M.K. Raghavan.

The Dakshin Railway Employees Union, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, too had opposed the proposal saying it should be viewed in context of the Bibek Debroy panel report that suggested privatisation of the Railways. The union has apprehended increase in passenger fares and closure of loss-making routes if the panel recommendations are implemented. Kozhikode is among the 23 railway stations that is proposed to be developed with world-class facilities at a cost of ₹75 crore each. As per the Swiss Challenge Method, four sites selected for the project will be leased to a successful bidder for 45 years.

TMC dreams to form Unions in Railways, Bank and Insurance sectors

KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is all set to form employees’ unions in the railway, banks and insurance companies in a bid to tap the huge workforce base in these sectors.

“On the directions of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister), we have decided to form employees’ union in the Indian Railways that has 15 lakh staff. Each of the railway zones will have a unit of the union,” TMC all-India vice president Mukul Roy told reporters here today.

“The national outfit will be called Indian Railway Trinamool Men’s Federation,” Roy said. “The unit for the Eastern Railway, will be called Eastern Railway Trinamool Men’s Congress; for South Eastern Railway, it will be South Eastern Railway Trinamool Men’s Congress and likewise for each zonal railway in the country,” the former Railway Minister said. “The party will form unions for banks and insurance companies in the public and the private sectors as well as for cooperative banks,” Roy said. It will be named All-India Bank and Insurance Employees’ Trinamool Federation, he said.

The TMC leader said under his leadership a committee, which was formed by Mamata Banerjee, will oversee the formation of the unions. Apart from Roy, the committee will comprise former Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, TMC MPs Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and MLA Manas Bhuniya. “We will try to ensure that the rights and benefits of employees in these sectors are maintained through negotiations with the employers instead of going on strikes and calling bandhs,” the TMC national vice-president said.


Earlier Controversies on Mukul Roy while serving as Minister of State for Railways

Mukul Roy is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha representing West Bengal and he also serves as the National Vice-President of his party – the All India Trinamool Congress. After Mamata Banerjee resigned as the Railway Minister she was to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Roy was handed additional charge of the Railway Ministry after Mamata expressed her desire that her party retain the Railway Ministry (as she always felt that West Bengal and importantly Kolkata holds the Headquarters of two important Railway Zones of the country – one being the Eastern Railway and the other being the South Eastern Railway, so that she can wrestle grip over the employee base there) and personally recommended Mr.Roy to the then Prime Minister Mr.Singh. Roy served as a Minister of State in the Railway Ministry with Manmohan Singh serving as the Cabinet Minister (pro tem) till 11 July 2011.

Mukul Roy always remained at the center of multiple controversies. On 11 July 2011, when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed Mukul Roy to visit an accident site near Rangiya where a train derailed in Assam following a blast, leading to Guwahati-Puri Express mishap injuring over 100 people and 66 people have died, Mukul Roy openly defied PM instructions to visit the mishap site, arguing that the track had been cleared and there was nothing for him to do. Sources in the then PMO said Roy, who belongs to Trinamool Congress, told the Prime Minister that the affected railway track had been cleared and injured moved to hospital and that there was nothing for him to inspect. When media and other agencies contacted him over the same, he even more harshly said, “I have nothing to say. I suggest you people contact the General Manager of the NF Railway about this.”

This brought a lot of displeasure among the political circles and he was shunted out of the Railways portfolio in the next cabinet reshuffle on 12 July 2011.

In 2012, he was the subject of a controversy regarding the Railway Budget. This happened after Mamata Banerjee expressed her discontent with the increase in passenger fares, and demanded the resignation of Dinesh Trivedi, Railway Minister. After Dinesh resigned, Mukul became the Railway Minister of India and he removed the fare hike introduced by the former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, to much criticism. With the exit of Trinamool from UPA coalition due to allowance of 51% FDI in retail and aviation sector, Mukul Roy’s tenure of railway minister came to an end in the month of September 2012.

Though TMC has had three Railway Ministers, including Banerjee, during the previous NDA and the UPA governments, it has had little presence in trade unions in the Indian Railways, which is dominated by the Left, the Congress and the BJP-leaning workers bodies. The bank and insurance sectors are dominated by Left-leaning unions, apart from Congress and BJP’s trade union wings. Roy said the process for getting the trade union bodies registered would begin soon.

When RailNews correspondent contacted few members of some trade unions including employees and officers across various zonal railways asked their opinion about Mr.Mukul Roy announcement, they out-rightly ruled out him as having any reputation within the Railways – as he was the one who did not even turn up to reach out to over 100 injured in an accident near Rangiya where over 66 passengers were killed.  How can he claim to come back. We will forcefully shunt him out of Railways – be it what it may; they said.

AIRF wants Konkan Railway to be merged with Indian Railways

MARGAO: The All India Railmen Federation (AIRF) members on Monday demanded that the Konkan Railway be merged with the Indian Railways and castigated the government for its attempts to intimidate and interfere in the functioning of the railway staff and their unions.

At the AIRF meeting held in Margao, the workers unanimously demanded that the Konkan Railway be merged with the Indian Railways. The demand was earlier made on October 31, 2015 at Jodpur in the presence of the Union Railway Minister.

Speaking to media persons, AIRF president Rakhal Das Gupta said, “The merger will improve the working conditions of the Konkan Railway workers and also that of the railway system under the corporation.”

However, he dismissed the suggestion that railway stations under Konkan Railway were cleaner and better maintained than the Indian Railways. He insisted that the conditions at the Konkan Railway stations were not on par with those at the Indian Railways.

Besides, the Federation also castigated the government for its attempts to intimidate and interfere in the functioning of the railway workers’ unions.

“The government is trying to dictate to us as to who should be elected as managing committee members, which is totally unacceptable,” he said.

KRCL study tour for drivers

Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) recently organised a study tour for autorickshaw and tourist taxi drivers of Mulki to help them learn about places of interest.

It was organised by KRCL’s Mangaluru Public Relations Manager K. Sudha Krishnamurthy following an instruction from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, a release here said.

As many as 50 drivers participated in the tour, which included Moodbidri, Karkala and surrounding places.

Railway Unions to hold protest across country on Feb 6

VADODARA: The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) and other zonal railway unions affiliated with NFIR will hold demonstrations in all the 16 zonal railways of Indian Railways on Monday (February 6) to lodge protest against government of India’s move to finish trade union movement of the Indian Railways.

J G Mahurkar, vice president of NFIR and general secretary of WRMS said this here on Saturday.

“There is an announcement by the government that railway supervisors working as junior engineers and senior engineers in grade pay Rs 4,200 and Rs 4,600 cannot remain office bearers of trade union after March 31, 2017 to improve safety. This is an example of high handedness of the government to finish the trade union movement of Indian Railways which has played a constructive role since last over 60 years. This is not permitted by the Trade Union Act 1926,” said Mahurkar.

“This is fabrication of truth because there are only 1.5% supervisors who are office bearers of recognised federation – NFIR. The government in its budget has totally neglected other areas where inputs are required, but funds are not available to improve safety of Indian Railways,” said Mahurkar, adding that government wants to destroy trade union movement of the Indian Railways.

He said that so far no pay commission has ever stopped special allowance being paid to railway employees because of difficult working condition. “Seventh pay commission has stopped all allowances without giving any reasons. NFIR requests to release allowances is still pending with the committee of finance department,” he said.

“When the government is claiming that they want to create job opportunities for youngsters, they are not filling 1.20 lakh vacancies in the safety categories of railways since last more than two years. Because of these vacancies, railwaymen are living a bad and uncomfortable life,” he said.

BRMS finds Union Budget 2017-18 looks failed to address the objective of Budget

Hyderabad: Bharatiya Railway Mazdoor Sangh says that the Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister for the year 2017-2018 looks failed to address the objective of budget as declared by finance minister. The said objective of the budget- Transform, Energise and Clean India with the approach of poverty alleviation.

There was huge revenue collection through demonetization but same has not been transferred in social expending. Migration caused due to demonetization is not addressed. Though budgetary allocation to MNREGA has been increased but it is not in tune, unemployment caused because of demonetization and migration from urban to village.

The tax relief is also not much, as expected because maximum tax payers is salaried class. BMS is of the view; the budget is disappointing to workers, salaried class and poor of the country. The unorganized sectors, scheme workers and other labour related concern – enhancement of their honorarium, coverage of social security net etc. are totally overlooked. BMS directs its affiliates to hold demonstration immediately against the Budget presented to demand relook on the budget proposals and provide compensation to common man who supported demonetization by bearing all sufferings. The scheme workers and other labour related concern – enhancement of their honorarium, coverage of social security net etc and strengthening to labour intensive industries must be taken care.

Absence of Electric Locomotive Overhaul Unit over SCR creates Dissent among Staff

Railway employees and workers are seeking a periodical overhauling unit for electric locomotives in South Central Railway from the Union government in the Budget.

SECUNDERABAD: Railway employees and workers are seeking a periodical overhauling unit for electric locomotives in South Central Railway from the Union government in the Budget. Due to absences of such a unit in SCR jurisdiction, the electrical rail engines are being sent to either Perambur or Gujarat for overhauling. The process takes at least three months. SCR Employees’ Sangh general secretary M. Raghavaiah told the media here that the SCR has about 589 electric locos online. “Since there is no workshop for carrying out overhauling of electric locos here, they are sent to Perambur or Dahod for overhauling; this resulting in heavy loss of loco days. We convinced the railway ministry on the matter and are waiting for budget allocations for the POH,” he said.

He said that the merging of Railway Budget into General Budget has led to the saving of dividends to the tune of Rs 9,200 crore to the railways but the Union government should leave the statutory powers and autonomous status to the railways. “The commitment was given by the railway ministry for establishment of wagon manufacturing factory at Kazipet has not been fulfilled so far, in spite of acquisition of land about 2.5 back,” he said.

He demanded the Union government to take up recruitments in all the major sectors in railways like safety. “There are as many as 1.6 lakh vacancies in Indian railways in safety departments, and 13,000 in SCR. About 9,000 railway workers died earlier due to stress and about 900 died on duty of which most are in safety sector like trackmen and gangmen. The railway should provide ‘Suraksha’ gadgets, which buzzer while train comes from at least 5 km to the workers as per the earlier promise,” he said.

CITU flays Railways move to privatise Heritage Trains

NEW DELHI: Reacting to the reported move by the Indian Railways to hand over some heritage trains to private and foreign operators, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) on Monday accused the NDA government of abdicating its responsibility and accountability with regard to safety and affordable fares.

Referring to media reports quoting Railway officials that the routes linking Kalka and Shimla, Siliguri and Darjeeling and the Nilgiri mountains with the plains, Neral and Matheran and the Kangra valley would be among the first to be handed over to private operators, including foreign companies, CITU president K Hemalata alleged that this was a precursor to the gradually private Indian Railways.

“As per reports, private companies, including the foreign ones, will not only run these trains but also maintain the lines and the stations and also own the station on these lines. They will reportedly be allowed to decide the fares after the approval of the Rail Development Authority of India that is going to be constituted,” said Hemalata said in a statement on Monday. She said the government was “abdicating itself from its responsibility of providing affordable transport to the millions of poor and common passengers. The people will now be exposed to the market forces, not only in the matter of fares but also their safety.”

Citing the loss of over 200 lives in the three recent train accidents in Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, the CITU pointed out that thousands of posts related to maintenance and safety in Railways were lying vacant.

“Instead of taking urgent measures to improve the safety conditions in the Railways, the government and the Rail Ministry have decided to privatise the Railways on the pretext of losses and the cost of maintenance,” Hemalata said, adding that “privatisation will further reduce accountability.”

Terming the reported move as a contradiction of repeated assurances given by the Prime Minister and the Railway Minister that the government had no intent to privatise the Railways, CITU called upon all Railway employees to resist any move to “hand over the national wealth and lifeline of our country to private companies.”

Railways threaten action against officials ‘critical’ of Govt policy

Railway servants have been warned against criticism of the government in messages/chats on various social media, including their closed user groups. They would else have to face disciplinary action.

Stung by criticism of the government’s policies by civil servants, the railways ministry has struck back by threatening disciplinary action against those found guilty.

While railways minister Suresh Prabhu has actively been promoting the use of social media to further the government’s agenda, the ministry seems to have realised that such platforms are double-edged weapons that could be – and were – being used to slam government policies.

“The cavalier and freewheeling manner of the criticism of government policies by the rail bureaucracy is unacceptable. Therefore, the need to reiterate the Service Conduct Rules of 1966, which prohibit officials from making any adverse criticism of the current or recent policy or action of the central or state government,” a senior ministry official said.

“It has come to notice that railway servants are indulging in messages/chats on various social media, including their closed user groups (CUG), which tantamount to criticism of the government. Under Rule 9 of the Railway Service Conduct Rules of 1966, this is not permitted. Any violation of the above will render the employees liable for disciplinary action,” the railways said in its circular of August 30.

“It is a fact that officials have increasingly been articulating opinions, mainly in closed groups on social media platforms. But the government clearly seems to be overreacting. Individual lives cannot be controlled in such as a manner,” a senior ministry official said.

Federation of Railway Officers Association (FROA) general secretary RN Singh is not alarmed by what he describes as a “routine circular”.

“The service conduct rules have merely been reiterated, as past governments have also done. This does not mean that merit-based criticism of the government policies cannot be done by associations or federations,” he said.

“Placing curbs on mindless criticism of government policies is fine. Several employees have developed the habit of forwarding or pressing ‘likes’ of adverse comments against the government. While this cannot be permitted, meaningful criticism of the government’s policies has to remain,” said Shiva Gopal Mishra of the All India Railway Men Federation (AIRF).

Member Staff addresses at SCRES Golden Jubilee Meet

Member staff lauds SCR over completion of RRI work at Vij before schedule; says credit goes to the Officers and Staff, who undertook the challenge with success

ms-at-scSecunderabad: Mr.Pradeep Kumar, Member Staff, Railway Board, New Delhi visited Secunderabad today i.e., 17th October, 2017. Accompanied by Mr.Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, SCR during his hectic schedule, the Member Staff addressed two meetings and interacted with Officials and Staff.

Meeting of Principal Heads of Departments, SCR

Mr.Pradeep Kumar, Member Staff, Railway Board addressed a meeting of the Principal Heads of Departments of SCR at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. Applauding the work culture of the Zone, the Member Staff sought that new ideas shall come through from the officers and staff so as to infuse a fresh dynamism to Indian Railways. Stressing that change is imperative for any organisation, he called upon the Officials to channel the avenue of change. He spoke on the Railway Ministry’s commitment towards positive Human Resource practices and added that issues concerning career progression and employee welfare are being given renewed focus by the Railway Board. He appreciated the completion of RRI work at Vijayawada on SCR, ahead of schedule and opined that the credit goes to the Officers and Staff who undertook the challenge with success.

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Earlier, Mr.Ravindra Gupta, General Manager in his welcome address briefed the Member Staff on the conducive Industrial Relations atmosphere prevailing on SCR. Elaborating on the co-ordination between various wings, the General Manager cited the on time completion of RRI work at Vijayawada and restoration of breaches to Railway tracks due to heavy rains recently as examples of the excellent co-ordination between various Engineering Departments. The General Manager also apprised the Member Staff that the backlog on compassionate appointment cases has been totally cleared on SCR and selection processes of various categories too streamlined, towards faster completion.

Mr.A.K.Gupta, Additional General Manager, Mr.N.V.Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer were amongst the Officials present.

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Golden Jubilee Meeting of SCR Employees Sangh

The SCR Employees Sangh (SCRES) celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 17th October, 2016 at Rail Kalarang, Bhoiguda, Secunderabad. Mr.K. Rosaiah, Former Governor of Tamil Nadu; Mr.Pradeep Kumar, Member Staff, Railway Board and Mr.Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, SCR were the Chief Guests.

Addressing the large gathering of employees, Mr.Pradeep Kumar, Member Staff, Railway Board, New Delhi stated that the Indian Railways workforce is spread across the length and breadth of the Nation and committed to serve. He acknowledged the fact that there is a cordial Industrial Relations prevalent on Indian Railways and gave credit to the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), to which SCR Employees Sangh is affiliated for its constructive role.

Earlier, Mr.Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, SCR in his speech emphasized that Employees are the biggest strength for an Organisation. It is the workforce of SCR which is instrumental in the Zone for attaining many a mile stones in the last 50 years, he added. He cited the excellent work undertaken by the SCR officials and staff from various categories during the Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) works at Vijayawada and restoration works during breaches to Railway tracks in the recent past. The General Manager expressed confidence that the Golden Jubilee of SCR will motivate the work force towards achieving more success.

Mr.M.Raghavaiah, General Secretary, SCR Employees Sangh acknowledged that the SCR administration has been responsive towards issues concerning the Railway workforce. He called upon the employees to enhance their work efficiency and exhibit more dedication to ensure that the organisation remains healthy.

Mr.K.Rosaiah complimented the SCR Employees Sangh for its relentless service towards the welfare of the Railway staff on the Zone for the last five decades and wished that the same shall continue. He praised Mr.M.Raghavaiah for leading the SCRES through the last four decades responsibly. Mr.Kasu Venkata Krishna Reddy, Former Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr.N.V.Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer, SCR and Mr.Prabhakar Andrews, President, SCRES were the other dignitaries present.

ICAI confident of Railways likely to adopt Double-entry Accounting

Double Entry Accounting SystemVijayawada: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is confident that the Indian Railways will start implementing Double Entry Accounting System (DEAS) from 2017 thereby facilitating better management of its finances and assets.

The institute will be submitting the report of a pilot project done by it on DEAS in the Jaipur division to the Ministries concerned in August. The proposed adoption of a similar accounting system by the Ministry of Defence is being closely followed and the official nod for it is likely to be given next year, said ICAI national president M. Devaraja Reddy.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Devaraja Reddy said the Ministry of Railways (MOR) had acknowledged the effectiveness of the accounting system mooted by the ICAI Accounting Research Foundation. The MOR was expected to give the green signal soon, facilitating regular auditing of railway establishments across the country in tune with the new accounting norms. Mr. Devaraja Reddy said the ICAI was firm on its stand that constitution of a National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), for which a provision had been made under Sec. 132 of the Companies Act, 2013, amounted to encroaching on the powers of ICAI.

Main areas of the topic include traffic revenue, balance-sheet accrual system, and fixed assets. By making a move to the institute, the chief purpose of the Indian Railways was to the convince the same for undertaking the tentative project on the study of current budgeting and the costing system. They wanted the institute to come up with a proposed plan for the outcome budgeting and the integrated cost accounting framework in agreement with the 2016 Union Budget. “Railways has got vast assets across the country and huge manpower. Hence, the double accounting system will help them to know how to manage those assets and manpower in a cost-effective manner,” told by ICAI President M Devaraja Reddy. The institute has recently undertaken a pilot study project of review of the capital expenditure procurement process and policy compliances framework on pro-bono basis of another state-owned PSU, Coal India” he said. Further, he added that a project on ‘migration strategy for implementation of accrual accounting system in EPFO’ has also been considered by ICAI and it has submitted the draft reports already.

The Quality Review Board (QRB) formed under Sec. 28A of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 was striving to ensure the quality of services rendered by the accounting professionals.

“The QRB and NFRA are bound to work at cross-purposes while the Ministry of Finance claims that the latter will be an overarching authority dealing with larger issues beyond accounting,” Mr. Reddy observed. Mr. Devaraja Reddy said efforts were being made to implement new syllabus from November. It was approved by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the clearance of Ministry of Law and Justice was awaited.

Speaking at ICAI’s sub-regional conference earlier in the day, Mr. Devaraja Reddy said there were 2.60 lakh chartered accountants in the country. Of them 1.10 lakh are doing independent practice and the others were employed in the corporate sector.

The ICAI has requested Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to allot five acres to the institute in Amaravati for setting up a Centre of Excellence there.

It will focus on skill development and continuing professional education.

After Rajnath Singh intervention, Rail strike put off

Railway Trade Unions defers their proposed indefinite strike by 4 months

Rajnath singhNew Delhi: Trade unions associated with railways have decided to defer their proposed strike from July 11 following a high-level meeting on Wednesday chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh.

The meeting which also had representatives from various other central trade unions deliberated on a number of issues related to the recommendations made by the 7th Pay Commission.

Sources said the meeting was “positive’’ as it came in the wake of the proposed July 11 strike called by central government employees’ unions.

The unions and the government evolved a “broad consensus” and arrived at an understanding that finance minister make a statement on the issue soon.

“The government has agreed to constitute a committee to review the minimum wages, besides the anomalies in the 7th Pay Commission report implementation particularly with regard to pension. The committee will review and submit the report soon. The decision is going to benefit a large number of railway employees. Therefore, we have deferred the strike call for a period of four months,” said Jeetendra Singh, general secretary of railway promotee officers association.

This was the second meeting the employees’ unions had with the government on the issue. Earlier, they met the Group of Ministers chaired by Mr Rajnath Singh on June 30.

The National Joint Council of Action (NJCA) of central government employees’ unions including Railways, Post & Telegraph and Defence have announced an indefinite strike from July 11 against the “unilateral” announcement of the Central government on implementation of 7th Pay Commission’s awards.

The trade unions claimed the recommended pay hike was the lowest in the last 70 years. They have accused the government of announcing the awards “unilaterally without any consultation with them. RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and other trade unions have rejected the recommendations, contending that it would increase disparity between the minimum and maximum pay.

Whole time Railway Servant is at Disposal of Government; cannot stall Railway operations

Employees going for July 11 strike to face consequences, services are liable to be terminated after following the due procedure for dereliction of Duties, flouting the conditions of Service, and failure to fulfil one’s obligations while being a Railway Servant, apart from causing severe inconvenience to passengers, the stir will also cause huge loss to the country’s economy in terms of growth!

New Delhi: With government workers threatening strike on July 11, the Railway Board has cited law and warned employees of sacking, imprisonment and fine if they proceed with the strike. The Board has written to General Managers of all zones to take measures in view of strike.

The letter cited Railway Services (Conduct Rules) 1966 which states that “No Work, No Pay” for the period of absence due to participation in a strike.

“Rule 237 of the code stipulates that whole time of a Railway Servant is at disposal of the government which pay him. Therefore if any Railway Servant willingly flouts this condition of service, then the services are liable to be terminated after following the due procedure,” said the letter.

It further says that according to the Act, if any railway servant entrusted with any responsibility connected with the running of train or rolling stock abandons their duty, they are liable to be punished with imprisonment for up to two years or a fine or both.

The central government employees especially at the lower-level are upset as the 7th Pay Commission increased the minimum wage to Rs 18,000 against the demand of Rs 26,000. They have called for countrywide strike on Jul y 11.

The National Joint Council of Action (NJCA), a confederation of government staff unions, said that 3.3 million central government employees, including 1.3 million railway employees, are unhappy with the commission’s recommendations. They will announce their final decision on July 7.

 

Prabhu writes to FM on 7th Pay burden

Suresh Prabhu Arun JaitleyNew Delhi: In the wake of railway workers threatening a strike and total ‘chakka jam’ from July 11 onwards, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley about the perceived problem and burden on Railways following the implementation of the just announced 7th Pay Commission recommendations.

Railway Ministry sources said that Prabhu has conveyed in his letter to Jaitley that the implementation of 7th Pay commission recommendations will lead to an additional burden of Rs.31,000 crore.

“Seventh Pay Commission has been accepted recently and there are lots of queries as to how Railways is going to fund. Our internal calculation is that the burden on railways will be around Rs.31,000 crore, which is the requirement was a little more than the commission’s estimate of Rs.28,000 crore,” Prabhu is believed to have apprised the Finance Minister.

Prabhu has said that around Rs.12,000 crore will be on account of wages, Rs.8,000 crore on account of pensions and the balance on account of various allowances which may lead to deterioration in Railways’ operating ratio.

“Last year, we ended with around 90 per cent. This will deteriorate to 92 per cent. Railways will try to see whether it is able to raise the resources on our own. We have approached the Ministry of Finance. If necessary, we will approach them for some assistance,” said a railway official.

On the impending strike call by railways unions, railway officials said the railway authorities held a meeting with representatives of employees’ unions over issues related to the pay hike and hoped that there would be no disruption of services.

Railway and other central government employees have decided to go on strike from July 11 against the pay commission recommendations approved by the government on Wednesday.

Asked whether the prospect of a strike by railway workers was worrying them, the official said that there are two recognised unions and their leadership is quite mature. “We are talking to them, we have had a few rounds of discussions already with them and we hope to find a solution. At this moment, I can only say that,” he said.

Railways’ passenger, freight services may be severely disrupted from July 11

If you are planning to travel by train on or after July 11, then keep a plan B ready.

Indian Railways’ trade unions have called for a nationwide indefinite strike by workers from July 11, for protesting new pension scheme and minimum wages announced by Cabinet on June 29.

Indian Railways is one of the largest employers with around 10 lakh 40,000 employees, and moves around 2.3 crore passengers and 1100 mt of freight everyday.

Any strike, depending on the magnitude of it, is going to cause passengers inconvenience and lead to spurt in prices of essential commodities.

The members of All India Railwaymen’s Federation and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen met Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu on 29th June 2016 and conveyed serious disappointment as well unhappiness among railway employees on the government’s decisions relating to  minimum wage, multiplier factor, abolition of National Pension System in Railways.

The unions are expected to meet again on July 6 to take stock of the situation.

Ministers talk to Trade Unions to avert Railway strike

Hectic efforts are on to avert proposed railway strike from July 11. Senior ministers met railway trade unions to make them agree to withdraw their call for strike from July 11. However, no agreement could be reached on the issue of minimum salary and the mechanism of calculating the salary in the 7th Pay Commission.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assured trade union leaders to consider their demand of increase in the minimum wage and calculations of salary announced in the 7th pay panel.

Trade union leaders have demanded a written assurance which the government is yet to come out with.

The government had called a meeting of trade union leaders on Thursday night at the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The finance minister along with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and MoS for Railways Manoj Sinha attended the meeting.

All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) Shiv Gopal Mishra told DH on Friday, “If the government agrees to our major demands, we may reconsider our call for strike from July 11. The final call will be taken on July 6 in a meeting of National Joint Action Committee of central government employees.”

He said the government has assured us that it would send our demands to the high-power committees which have been formed to look into minimum wage, allowances and calculation of salary.

Mishra said the government’s claim on enhancement of the minimum wage is false and misleading. The government has said that the wage has increased to Rs 18,000 per month from Rs 7,000.

“A new recruit currently gets approximately Rs 16,000 a month, including the Dearness Allowance. The government has increased Rs 2,000 in 10 years since the last pay commission was implemented,” he said.

WR demands written support from Staff

undertakingAgainst the wake of an impending nationwide strike call by nearly 33 lakh government employees to protest the 7th pay commission, the Western Railway has come up with a list of directives for its employees to ensure smooth functioning of trains.

Among the set of instructions is an order for staffers to fill in a form to show their unwillingness to join the agitation, which is likely to start from July 11. The WR administration took the decision after the WR Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) and Western Railway Employees Union sent out a communication asking employees to join the strike.

According to the note signed by N M Agrawal, WR employees will not be allowed to take leave prior to the strike or during it. The notice has further has asked all the employees who are on leave to resume office from June 5. The strike, if comes into effect, will affect all the departments of the railways and will hamper train services in a big way.

Ajay Singh, divisional secretary of WRMS, said the hike suggested by the 7th pay commission is meagre. “It has only accounted for three people in the family. According to the recommendations of the 7th pay commission, we will get a hike of 2.57 per cent as against our demand of 3.67 per cent. We will not budge an inch, and stop the railway functioning unless out demands are met.”

Singh is also the zonal head of National Federation of Indian Railwaymen. WRMS has about 84,700 employees working in WR are affiliated to it.

The employees who would want to go on leave citing medical reasons will be allowed to abstain from work only after they produce a medical certificate of a doctor of the railways, says the note from Agrawal.

A senior railway official explained that there is still some time for the strike and that talks are being held between the government and trade unions.

Within railways, the strike call has been given by the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen and All India Railwaymens Federation. About 33 lakh government employees have threatened to go on strike.

Rail Strike will cripple over 23m Passengers and 1100 MT of Freight Biz of IR

In 1974, railway employees demanding a wage increase staged a strike that crippled life in the country for almost three weeks. Hence Centre should be more careful on the way it is being planned by the Unions now; and should not allow nefarious politics creep into!

Railway StrikeNew Delhi: Imagine you wake up one morning and come to know that the trains are not running. Skeptical at even the thought of it? It may just come true if the 1.3 million employees of Indian Railways decide to act on a threat to go on an indefinite strike from 11 July.

A strike by workers of the national transporter, India’s largest employer, will virtually cripple life in a country where 23 million passengers and over 1,100 million tonnes of freight are carried daily by the railway.

The spark for the strike threat is the cabinet’s approval on Wednesday for recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. The National Joint Council of Action, a confederation of central government employee organisations that claim a membership of 3.3 million, said it wasn’t happy with the minimum pay of Rs.18,000 that has been approved. Although a hefty hike from the Rs.7,000 minimum pay that central government staff earned earlier, it fell short of the Rs.26,000 demanded by the council. Railway employees form a major chunk of the 3.3 million employees it claims to represent.

In February this year, the All-India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) conducted a secret ballot for its members to decide the future course of action if its demands weren’t met. In the secret ballot, 95% of the 900,000 railwaymen from all over the country who cast their ballots supported a strike. These employees included railway men from all over the country including 17 zones and 7 production units of Indian Railways.

In 1974, railway employees demanding a wage increase staged a strike that crippled life in the country for almost three weeks.

“It was a 20-day strike and people and commodities couldn’t move an inch,” recalled Jasbir Singh, a resident of Punjab who bore witness to that strike.

“There was a lot of bloodshed and protests, from what we heard in the news on radio, as TV was a luxury at that time. Power cuts, water shortage, food prices being doubled and tripled…People were stranded and it took months to clear the backlog in passenger and freight traffic.”

Indian Railways is one of the largest transportation and logistics networkss in the world, operating some 19,000 trains daily, including 7,000 freight trains, over 65,000 kilometres of routes across 7,146 railway stations.

Out of the total freight carried by the railway, major commodities are coal, cement, iron and steel, foodgrains, oil and fertilizer.

V. Krishna Ananth who teaches history at Sikkim University, Gangtok, and recently wrote a paper in Economic and Political Weekly on ‘Remembering May 1974-The Historic Railway Workers’ Strike’ says, “Realise the strength which Railwaymen possess. Seven days’ strike of the Indian Railways, every thermal station in the country would close down. A 10 days’ strike of the Indian Railways, every steel mill in India would close down and industries in the country would come to a halt for the next 12 months. If once the steel mill furnace is switched off, it takes nine months to re-fire. A fifteen days’ strike in Indian Railways, and the country will starve.”

The All India Railwaymen’s Federation wants the prime minister’s intervention to avert such a situation.

“We gave several representations to the government…and opened several channels for negotiation but the government turned a blind eye. We have no other alternative now but to go on indefinite strike from 11 July and now an intervention at PM-level is the only way to resolve the crisis that has been created,” says Shiva Gopal Mishra, general secretary of the union,

Railway employee unions have other demands related to payment of a productivity-linked bonus, pension and a One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme like the one approved for defence forces.

“The government has been indifferent to railway employees despite we being the lifeline of the country. Our hard work is not being paid and around 11 lakh railway employees especially those who have joined from 1 January 2004 are in age group of 20-40 years. The young blood is not ready to compromise in any way,” said M Raghavaiah of the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR).

The government is hoping the threat of a strike will pass.

“Such threats have been given earlier too and it might be possible that the unions back-track..You can’t be sure of a strike as of now,” a railway board member said on condition of anonymity.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu met union leaders on Wednesday and he will likely defuse the situation, the member said.

Still, do give it a thought. What if Indian Railways comes to a halt?

AIREF cry injustice by Railway Board

airef teamsBhubaneswar: All India Railway Engineers Federation (AIREF) on Sunday alleged that Railway Board has done injustice towards around 80,000 junior engineers and senior section engineers working in Indian Railways by not promoting them from grade C to grade B.

The AIREF leaders told this at the annual general body meeting of the East Coast Railway Engineers Association (ECoREA) organized here. They said several safety committees- Wanchoo, Sikiri, Khanna and Bibek Debroy- have strongly suggested improvement of social status, pay structures and promotional avenues of the railway engineers in order to provide quality services to rail users.

“But the Railway Board is deliberately ignoring the recommendations of the committees. Even now seventh pay commission has not included them for pay revision,” said AIREF president Sanjib Kumar.

He said they look after safety and operations of trains across the country. “We work more than eight hours due to staff crunch. We can’t even spend time with families because of heavy pressure at workplace. But railway pays the qualified engineers less than a nurse’s salary,” Kumar said.

ECoREA president Bobin Mohanty said members of both the outfits decided to hold special safety and passengers amenities drive on July 4 as a mark of protest. This drive will continue for indefinite period, he added.

Mohanty said they (junior engineers and senior section engineers) put more than 100 per cent efforts for safe journey of 23 million passengers daily despite acute shortage of manpower and materials. From July 4 onwards, they won’t compromise with safety for the sake of punctuality, he added.

“We have been maintaining our work pace without sufficient manpower and materials, but the Railway Board doesn’t pay heed to our demands. From July 4 onwards, we will work as per availability of manpower and materials. It will delay several passenger and goods trains across the country. And it will give Railway Board a strong message that how railway functions without their dedicated effort,” said Mohanty.

Railway Convention Committee chairperson Bhartruhari Mahtab and Parliament Standing Committee on Railways member Balabhadra Majhi, who attended the meeting, assured the engineers to take up the matter with the Railway Board and railway minister Suresh Prabhu.

“We have met railway minister on the issue and requested him to resolve the matter. Even BJD MP Nagendra Pradhan has filed a petition before the Committee on Petitions of the Lok Sabha to discuss on the issue. But nobody pays heeds to the engineers’ demands,” said Mahtab.

Majhi admitted that injustice has been done towards the engineers. “I will take up the issue with Railway Board and discuss this at standing committee meeting,” he added.

Rail Unions demand scrapping of Rs 40000 Crore Loco contracts with GE & Alstom

AIRF General Secretary Siv Gopal Mishra seen reading a magazine (File Photo)
AIRF General Secretary Siv Gopal Mishra seen reading a magazine (File Photo)

New Delhi: Indian Railways’ workers unions have expanded the scope of their protest by including a key reform initiative of the rail ministry in their agenda for agitation – the award of Rs 40,000 crore contracts for new locomotive factories to foreign firms GE and Alstom.

A majority of the 1.3 million railway workers are preparing for the launch of the indefinite nation-wide strike beginning from 11th July, drumming up support from regional units against the government’s ‘casual’ approach towards their demands.

“This railway strike will be the biggest ever. We do not want a strike because of its negative impact on the nation and the industry but it is the last resort. We are ready to face all consequences,” Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary of All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) told. “We have no political intentions and do not want a direct fight with the establishment but the government must talk to us responsibly,” he added.

A rail ministry spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comments on the issue of strike threat by unions. Indian Railways had last witnessed a nationwide strike in May 1974. That strike had seen participation from more than 1.7 million workers against low wages and tough working hours. The strike went on for around 20 days before the government, under the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, suppressed it.

The unions are demanding improving the minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month for workers as computed by the seventh pay commission to around Rs 26,000 and rejecting all the ‘retrograde’ recommendations of the panel. Another major demand is to scrap the New Pension Scheme (NPS) and restoring the Old Pension Scheme for railway workers in view of the harsh working conditions.

The government had last year set up an executive committee headed by the Cabinet secretary to look at the demands of unions. “We have had at least two meetings with the committee. They do listen to us but cannot negotiate with us. The workers’ frustration is increasing,” said Guman Singh, President of the other union National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR).

The other demands include scrapping the report of the Bibek Debroy committee on mobilisation of resources for railways submitted last year and withdrawing the notification that allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to flow into the rail sector. Unions allege, the government has not looked at their demand for exemption from the NPS favorably despite letters written by former rail minister Mallikarjun Kharge and the current rail minister Suresh Prabhu.

Rail minister Suresh Prabhu had in a letter to finance minister Arun Jaitley in November last year said there is a strong merit in reconsideration of the unions’ proposal to exempt railway workers appointed on or after a January 2014 from the purview of NPS, unions said.

The unions had earlier threatened to go on strike on 11 April this year but withdrew that decision after the cabinet secretary-headed executive committee sought three months time to lok at the demands. The trade unions had on 9 June submitted notice of strike to the General Managers of all the railway zones and heads of production units based on a strike ballot conducted in February this year in which over 95 per cent workers favored strike. The unions are now chalking out a plan of action for protests till 11 July.

Both NFIR and AIRF believe their protest has gained strength with employees of other central departments joining in against the pay panel’s recommendation. NFIR General Secretary M Raghavaiah — who is also the Chairman of the National Joint Council for Action for all central government employees had last week said called the government’s response to the charter of demands submitted by unions in December 2015 was disappointing and casual.

He said the organizations representing the 3.2 million central employees – Railways, Defence, Postal, Income Tax, Central Customs & Excise etc – had decided decision on 3 June to go on indefinite strike from 11 July.

Railway unions to go on strike from July 11

Railway UnionsRailway employees across the country will observe strike from July 11 after the National Joint Council of Action of Joint Consultative Machinery of central government employees took the decision.

The unions are demanding modification of the 7th Pay Commission report, which according to them is disappointing.

The demands include revision of minimum pay for central government employees to be revised from Rs 18,000 to Rs 26,000, revision of increment rate from three per cent to five per cent, restoration of all allowances stopped by the 7th pay commission and payment of house rent allowance at the rate of 30 per cent, 20 per cent and 10 per cent, which now has been reduced to 24 per cent, 16 per cent and eight per cent.

The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen and All India Railwaymen Federation are also demanding removal of anomalies by the 6th Pay Commission.

Railways need more investment in Technology, Skill Development

CRB at SecunderabadSecunderabad: Chairman Railway Board (CRB) AK Mital said there is a need to invest more in technology and skill development. Following a review meet on the performance of South Central Railway, the CRB AK Mittal asked for an action plan to gradually increase the average speed of train services.

A.K. Mital, Chairman Railway Board, New Delhi addressed a National Seminar on “Safety in Indian Railways – Role of Signalling & Telecommunication (S&T) Department” organised by the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) at Rail Kalarang, Secunderabad today i.e. 28th May, 2016.

CRB at Secunderabad in S&T seminarThe Chairman Railway Board, who was the Chief Guest at the seminar stressed that the role of S&T Department is very vital towards safety of rail operations. Spelling out the objective of Indian Railways, he said that the rail network should be comparable to the best anywhere in the world and passengers shall feel absolute safe to travel on the system. With technology evolving very fast, the need is to upgrade, absorb and assimilate technology to better use, so as to improve the reliability of the railway system. He called upon the railway force to work towards zero failure of assets and in case of any failure, to rectify the same in the least possible time.

Indian Railways is geared to invest enough in upgrading both technology and manpower skills, Mital informed and added that there shall be no doubts with regard to safety, when train speeds are increased. The Seminar, which is focused on the role of S&T Department has come at an appropriate time, with the focus of Indian Railways also tuned towards Safety as first priority. He assured that needed steps will be taken, wherever required to redress issues concerning the S&T workforce.

Earlier, Ravindra Gupta, General Manager, SCR lauded NFIR for organising the Seminar on Safety and made a pitch for re-skilling and multi-skilling of technical staff on the Railways, so as to enhance the efficiency of the system. In the present times, signalling assets have spread all over the rail network and it is a big challenge to maintain the same. Remote monitoring of assets, hence needs to be planned, he opined. Whatever technology is imbibed on Indian Railways, it is essential that the same shall withstand all weather conditions, he stressed. The General Manager expected that the Seminar will be able to contribute in devising the policy and direction for S&T Department.

Akhil Agarwal, Additional Member (Signal), Railway Board in his address spoke of the vital role that the S&T Departments place in keeping the trains moving. Training of manpower and technology modernisation are essential parameters of the S&T wing, to develop the railway system. While training of staff shall be a priority, there cannot be any compromise on safety of the S&T staff during the course of performing their duties, he stressed and added that safety gadgets will be used to enhance safe working conditions of S&T personnel.

Raghavaiah, General Secretary, NFIR in his special address called upon the S&T workforce to pledge themselves towards working committedly towards a ‘Zero Accident Record’. The seminar is to enhance safety conscious levels of S&T workforce and deliberate on their productivity and working conditions, he stated. The Seminar was presided over by Guman Singh, President, NFIR.

A.K. Gupta, Additional General Manager; M.S. Mahaboob Ali, Chief Signalling & Telecommunication Engineer; S.P. Sahu, Chief Safety Officer; R.R. Prasad, Chief Personnel Officer; Ashesh Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager; Smt Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division, SCR were amongst the dignitaries who attended.

Working Conditions of Loco Running staff makes their lives Pathetic and Inhumane

AILRSA BannerThe All India Loco Running Staff Association has written to the minister of railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on the reigning hot summer in our country and its adverse effect on the safety, health and work place environment of the loco pilots of Indian railway.

According to the reports of the meteorological department, an increase of about 2 degrees to 6 degrees centigrade above normal in atmospheric temperature has been recorded in our country during this summer season compared to the past and it is anticipated that the condition would prevail until the arrival of normal monsoon. In addition to this, possibility of heat wave has also been predicted in some parts.

This situation has seriously affected the day to day life of the common man especially the workers of our country. Scarcity of drinking water has also become a major problem in many parts.

Newspaper reports say that more than 200 people have died in our country due to soaring heat. In Andhra Pradesh (46) and Telangana (66) lost their life during this summer season. States like Telangana recorded temperature of 47 degree centigrade, Odissa – 43, Jharkhand- 42to 45, UP- 42 etc. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and also in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala there is unprecedented increase in temperature.

In order to safeguard the life and health of the people, the central government and the state governments have taken precautionary steps like restricting the school timings, restructured the working hours of the construction workers, agricultural workers and others who work outdoor so that they are not made to work between 11.00 am to 3 pm when the temperature is so high. Even though such being the reality of the situation, the railway administration seems to be totally detached and indifferent to the problem faced by the railway employees especially those who work in the open line.

The railway administration has so far not taken any steps to protect the workers from the difficulties they face due to the hot summer. Loco running staff is one of the categories who bear the brunt of the inaction on the part of the administration. The complaints and grievances of the staff in this regard are ignored and are forced to work without any apparent opposition or protest due to the pain of consequent punitive actions. Thus the administration is exploiting the health and strength of the loco running staff with impunity.

Loco running staff are one of the vital categories in Indian Railways who are directly and closely involved in the safe and punctual running of trains more than anybody else. Their job demand is tremendous and they are required to perform their duty in an impeccable manner with no margin of error. Even the minor lapses and human errors on their part are meted with severe punishments.

These issues have been identified by the various safety committees and the expert bodies including the railway administration but except being rhetoric and making lip service, the railway administration has not taken any concrete and durable steps to improve the working condition of the staff. Not only just and humane condition of work is not provided to the loco running staff but also whatever meagre is available, it is being denied through systematic disservice. This has put the health of the loco running staff as well as the safety of the train operation under unwarranted risk.

Some of the difficulties the staff face while working especially pertaining to the unjust and inhumane working conditions in the loco cab which tend to adversely affect their health and the ability to discharge their duties in an efficient and safe manner are mentioned below.

The working condition in the loco is so adverse to the extent of causing untold discomfort to the crew. The workers are experiencing unprecedentedly hot summer and rise in temperature. In fact the thermometer reading does not reflect the real heat felt by the human body. The felt temperature or the heat index, as indicated by the meteorological department, after taking the relative humidity into account is at least 5 to 6 degree centigrade above the recorded temperature. This matter has been widely acknowledged by all and steps have been taken to protect the workers, especially who work outdoors, from the related health hazards and other risks by ensuring the thermal comfort.

Unfortunately nothing is being done by the railway administration to ease the working condition of the employees who work under this severe condition, at least in the case of the loco running staff. For the loco running staff the situation is even more precarious due to the unjust and inhumane conditions existing in the loco cabs, running room etc which further adds to the heat index value and the resultant discomfort.

The unjust condition of the loco cab badly affects the thermal comfort and the overall performance of loco pilots. The loco cab and the crew are directly exposed to sunlight resulting in high radiant heat gain. The metal locomotive body gets heated due to exposure to sunlight and transfers heat to aggravate the condition. Wider look out glasses and too much window area expose cab to direct sunlight, the high solar factor due to the inferior type of glass used etc increases the heat. Lack of proper solar blinds or curtains make things worse. Green house gas effect build up also makes the interior uncomfortably hot. Due to the low ceiling, the heat is transferred from the warm ceiling. The constricted space in the cab and lack of air circulation, no cab ventilation make things worse.

The fans provided are a mockery. It is ridiculously small, delivers insufficient air, air flow is focused only to limited parts of the body (less sweep area), is poorly designed and sited. It conducts hot air and adds to the temperature. High perspiration due to the material of the seat cover used and other factors along with the decreased rate of evaporation further increases the heat effect. Thermal stratification created due to the vertical air temperature difference felt at head and feet is also an adverse factor. Dust laden and impure air gets inside the cab.

This is in addition to the long existing distressful condition in the cab like: excessively high noise pollution level in the cab due to poor design and lack of proper maintenance; the crew are subjected to excessively high vibration level due to lack of vibration control arrangements; window and other components rattle owing to indifferent maintenance and the loose fittings; owing to the rudimentary and most hostile and fixed seating arrangements, let alone the scientific temperament, even the minimum basic things are disregarded while providing the seats. Except for providing the back rest, leave its utility, no improvement has been made to the seats in the diesel/AC locos since its introduction into the Indian railways; rusted loco body and fittings along with the loathsome and de-motivating appearance of the cab environment; general un-ergonomic design and condition of the cab.

Pointed out above is the general condition of the locos. In fact in majority of the locos the condition is even more degenerating and distressful especially in WDP, WAP, WAG, WAM, WAP1 type locos which are widely being used for working trains in Indian railways. All this adverse working conditions create cascading and long lasting bad effects on the health of the crew and on the ability to discharge their duties with the infallibility expected of them.

PATHETIC AND RETROGRADE CONDITION OF THE RUNNING ROOMS

Another issue of concern is the lack of quality rest the loco running staff suffer due to the pathetic condition of the running rooms which makes them vulnerable to safety errors. The loco pilots get only a meager and measured rest between two spells of duties and working trains without taking proper rest would not only be a health hazard to the staff but also assumes greater dimension by putting the life of the passengers and rail safety at peril.

The importance of the quality rest for the loco pilots and its relation to the maintenance of safety in train operation is well established and endorsed by the various safety committees including the high power committee. The recommendations given by these committees are being overlooked by the administration to the disadvantage of the staff and in disservice to the interest of the safety. Due to the hot summer, the condition has become further worse and the loco pilots are made to suffer untold miseries. They are forced to work without taking proper rest by stretching themselves beyond the just and healthy limits which is undesirable for rail safety.

It is a fact that the discomfort caused by hot condition, unlike cold, affects mental ability before physical one and results in losing dexterity, intellectual function, concentration and alertness. The relation between high temperature and unsafe action is also a concern.

Moreover forcing the loco running staff to work under such unjust and inhumane conditions is also against the declared “National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Workplace”.

The following suggestions in this regard were made:
1. Provide air conditioning systems in the locomotive cabs and running rooms on urgent basis
2. Improve the general condition of the locomotive cab and running room according to the recommendations of the high power committee
3. As a temporary measure of relief, modify the crew link, taking into consideration the harsh condition prevailing during this summer season, similar to that of the temporary monsoon links by reducing working hours, restricting night duty hours, increasing rest between two spells of duties etc
4. Provide bottled drinking water en-route to the crew of the running trains

Indian Railways may go Amtrak way sans Funds: Suresh Prabhu

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu while inaugurating Comrade Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre in All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) Office in New Delhi, refers to the Amtrak Railway System of USA

suresh prabhu on amtrakNew Delhi: The Indian Railways needs massive investments to remain sustainable or it risks meeting the same fate as beleaguered American rail utility Amtrak, Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

“There is a need for investment in Railways. In China, the investment in railways is about Rs. 9 to 10 lakh crore whereas here it is Rs. 40,000 crore a year…as a result, rail traffic is going to the other sectors. So, we have decided to enhance investment into the rail sector and it will go up in the coming years,” Mr. Prabhu said after inaugurating the Late Comrade Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre here.

Minister of Railways today inaugurated Comrade Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre situated in All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) Office Complex, 4, State Entry Road, New Delhi. AIRF has taken initiative for the establishment of this center which will prove to be a mile stone in the history of Labour movement as all kind of Research work related to Trade Union Movement in India as also in foreign countries will be undertaken here. The center will also maintain digital database both from national and international sources which will cover labour related issues as well as issues pertaining to railway safety and railway infrastructure. The center will be open to all railwaymen and other interested persons. The centre will conduct research related to trade union movement in India and abroad.

Learning from Amtrak

Speaking on the occasion, he said, Indian Railways may suffer a similar fate as the U.S. railroad service Amtrak, which suffered due to lack of timely investment, citing a research report.

“We should learn from Amtrak. They did not invest in it so its future is doomed. According to a research report, Indian Railways was also suffering because of lack of investments on the lines of what happened to Amtrak. There is a need for investment in railways,” Mr. Prabhu said.

The Railways market share in freight has eroded over the years. The share of railways in the total transportation of freight traffic has declined from 89 per cent in 1950-51 to 36 per cent in 2007-08.

In his second Budget this year, Mr. Prabhu announced increasing investments by 21 per cent to Rs 1.21 lakh crore in 2016-17. The Railways intends to spend Rs 8.5 lakh crore over the next four years.

On this occasion, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital and other Board Members, senior officials of Railway Board, Northern Railway and Delhi Division were present. Shri Rakhal Das Gupta, President, AIRF gave the welcome address while Shri Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, AIRF presented the importance of Research Center. The office bearers of other Railway Unions and Associations were among those present on the occasion. Shri J.R. Bhosale, Treasurer, AIRF proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Suresh Prabhu inaugurates "Late Com. Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre
Suresh Prabhu inaugurates “Late Com. Umraomal Purohit Memorial Research Centre

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that it is really a matter of great pleasure that a Union of Indian Railways has taken a different kind of initiative of setting up of a research center on labour issues and issues pertaining to railway operations like safety.

Congratulating AIRF for this initiative, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that AIRF has presented a new benchmark in the labour movement. Stressing on the importance of two rails (tracks) which are essential for the successful railway operations, Shri Suresh Prabhu pointed out that the Railway management on the one hand represents ‘one rail’ while the ‘second rail’ is represented by railway personnel and both have to work together for the success and progress of the Indian Railways. Referring to the Amtrak Railway System of USA, the Minister said that the studies have shown that this Railway network got derailed because they did not make timely enough investment into the system to ensure its steady growth. Similarly, there was lot of concern in India that not enough investment was made into the Indian Railway system over the years, hampering its expansion and modernization, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that we took a momentous decision of enhancing investment into the rail sector and save railway from under investment.

Now the tempo of investment is continuing and more and more funds will continue to be invested in the railways in the years to come. Secondly, we are focusing on bringing in best technology to ensure fully safe railway operations. We are also concentrating on more investment in Research and Development. He said that we have to take parallel steps in all directions and in all respects of railway operation to achieve integrated objectives. Referring to the best industrial relations between railway management and railway staff, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that this has become possible because the management and the staff side are both committed towards the common goal of making the Indian Railway healthy and growth oriented.

RPF Association gets stay on DG/RPF’s appointment

On Monday, a bench of justice Gita Mittal and justice OS Mehta, hearing a petition filed by the All-India Railway Protection Force Association (AIRPFA), ordered the Union government to file a reply to the points raised by the petitioner within a week.

dg rpf courtThe job of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) might be to protect passengers of the Indian Railways and the assets of the national transporter. But for the past couple of days, if there is anything that has commanded the undivided attention of the RPF top brass and boots on the ground, it is the case in the Delhi High Court filed against the deputation of IPS officers into the RPF.

On Monday, a bench of justice Gita Mittal and justice OS Mehta, hearing a petition filed by the All-India Railway Protection Force Association (AIRPFA), ordered the Union government to file a reply to the points raised by the petitioner within a week. The Delhi HC set the next hearing for May 19.The AIRPFA is a one-of-its-kind union or association of constables and officers up to the rank of inspector in an armed force of the Union.

The AIRPFA has contended that an amendment made to the Railway Protection Force Act 1957 has clearly stated that there would be no deputation of personnel from other forces in the RPF. The fight is over the fact that the RPF has had IPS officers as its director general since the inception of the force and no direct officer from the RPF category has been able to get to any post higher than additional director general..

On April 27, the appointments committee of the Cabinet approved SK Bhagat, a 1982 batch IPS officer of the Uttarakhand cadre, as DG, RPF. Bhagat was special DG of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) before being appointed to the RPF. The AIRPFA has managed to get a stay on Bhagat’s appointment as the Delhi High Court order of May 2 states that ‘the respondents shall not give effect to the recommendation dated April 27 till the next date of hearing’.

The issue could change the way the RPF functions because it could become the only large paramilitary force without any IPS officer at its helm. Incidentally, the RPF is the only paramilitary force which is under the Ministry of Railways rather than the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Defence.

The issue has come at a time when a section of the RPF believes the force is now good enough to be the sole policing system on the vast railway network. In fact, the railways has moved a proposal to make the RPF the federal railway security agency, but this has faced a host of queries from the Union Law and Judiciary as well as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Currently, about 2,300 trains on vulnerable routes are escorted by the RPF and about 220 trains by the railway police of the respective states the train passes through. This is apart from the personnel of both the RPF and railway police who protect the ladies’ coaches of suburban trains in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Secunderabad and Delhi National Capital Region, said officials.

The RPF has a strength of about 75,000 personnel nationwide of which about 2,600 personnel are in Central Railway’s suburban segment and 2,100 in Western Railway’s suburban segment.

Intimidating Railway Unions must be checked, says Officers Association

Railway Officers AssociationChennai: The railways should enforce a rule where members of authorised employee unions can meet officers or supervisors only with prior appointment and the meetings should be videographed, the Southern Railway Officers Association (SROA) has petitioned general manager Vashishta Johri.

This comes in the wake of repeated instances of officers being intimidated or attacked by members of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU), the sole recognised union in the zone, said the petition submitted to the general manager on March 31. The most recent incident was on March 22 when chief commercial manager Ajeet Saxena was gheraoed by a group of women staff.

SROA has also demanded that the administration ensure assigned duties of union office-bearers are strictly monitored for better productivity. Staff misbehaving with officers should be dealt with as per Railway Board norms and the poster/painting culture in various railway offices must be checked as it was spoiling implementation of the Swachh Bharat scheme, said the petition.

The letter listed out eight ‘ugly incidents’ allegedly resorted to by SRMU staff to intimidate officers. Some included attacks on the chief physician at the railway hospital in Perambur and an assault in Palghat division.

SRMU was operating 180 branches with official accommodation and this was more than double of that mandated by Railway Board guidelines, it said. As SRMU secured 43,000 votes, it could have only 43 branches across the zone and even if all employees had voted, it could have only 90. “This has amounted to loss of manpower directly affecting the productivity of railways,” SROA said. In addition, loss of rent, electricity, water and maintenance charges were borne by the administration.

Railway JEs and SSEs goes on Mass Leave for Group-B Status

Railway UnionsNew Delhi: Junior Engineers (JEs) and Senior Sections Engineers (SSEs) in the Railways will go on mass leave on Wednesday to press their demand for the Group B status.

The engineers are apparently upset over the Seventh Pay Commission, which did not grant them the Group B status despite a notification by the Department of Personnel and Training to treat Railway JEs and SSEs on par with their counterparts in other central government departments.

“The protest will be organised under the banner of All India Railway Engineers Federation (AIREF) at all zonal and divisional offices in country and a memorandum addressed to the Railway Minister and the Railway Board Chairman will be submitted,” National Organisation Secretary V K Badgaiya told on Tuesday.

Badgaiya said all engineers will go on mass leave on Wednesday as a symbolic protest.

“As per the DOPT gazette notification no. 605 dated April 9, 2009, JEs/SSEs working in Railways should be accorded Group B status on par with their counterparts in other central government departments, but it was not implemented in railways,” Badgaiya claimed.

“The notification clarified that all civil posts, for which the grade pay was above Rs 4,200, are eligible to be included in the Group B category. But it was denied to the Railway JE/SSE cadre by the Seventh Pay Commission,” he claimed.

Despite working tirelessly and playing an important role in railways’ operations, the Seventh Pay Commission has kept us on par with railways nurse, pharmacist and accounts cadres who just work for six hours a day in air-conditioned cabins, he alleged.

He said they had earlier also staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on December 2. The Federation had then warned of intensifying the stir if their demands were not fulfilled by the railway administration.

The JEs and SSEs are responsible for the safe operation of trains by constantly maintaining track, signal, engine, coach, electric line and bridges across the country and they only grant fitness certificate to trains for operations.

AIRF goes on all-Indian Railway strike

Threatening to go on “indefinite strike”, All-India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) today raised various demands including review of new pension scheme and filling up of large number of vacant posts in the railways.

“We will conduct a secret ballot on Februray 11 and 12 to decide the date and future course of action (on strike),” AIRF General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said here today.

He said if railway employees will cast their votes in favour of launching indefinite strike then we will go for it and accordingly a date would be announced.

Currently, he said, there were about 2.5 lakh posts including those of loco pilots, assistant station masters and track men lying vacant in railways.

Mishra also differed with the 7th Pay Commission reports and said “the minimum wage should be increased from Rs 18,000 per month to Rs 26,000.”

According to the 7th Pay Panel recommendations, there would be an additional burden of Rs 32,000 crore on railways and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has described it as “unbearable”.

On new pension scheme, he said, “it should be reviewed as there are many anomalies in it. We want the guranteed pension scheme should be implemented.”

In order to make the proposed agitation a success, Mishra said a sustained awareness campaign will be launched from January 25 to February 10.

NFIR flays 7th Pay Commission recommendations as ‘retrograde’ proposals

he recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission (7th CPC)   would reduce, rather than increase, the “take home” salary of 90 per cent of the Indian Railways’ workforce, the largest railway trade union has alleged. The recommendations are effective from the current month and would lead to a total annual wage burden of Rs 28,000 crore, the government estimates.

The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), that represents more than 90 per cent of the railways’ workforce, has said 1.3 million railway employees are “seriously disturbed” over what they call retrograde recommendations of the panel with regard to their pay structure as their take-home salary would be less than what they currently receive, particularly employees living in government accommodation.

“Those being covered against pay levels 1 to 12 of the seventh CPC Pay Matrix are approximately 90 per cent of the workforce in the Indian Railways and these employees are seriously disappointed as their ‘take home’ salary after waiting 10 years would be reduced ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,000 per month with effect from January 1,” NFIR said, without explaining how it arrived at the conclusion.

It added the hike in wages will either be marginal or less than what is received now, NFIR general secretary M Raghavaiah said.

In response to the “illogical” recommendations, the union has threatened to go on an indefinite strike in the first week of March after participating in a three-day dharna at Jantar Mantar along with employees of Defence and Postal services. “The 7th CPC has done grave injustice to the employees in the Railways as well in the Central government employees with regard to multiplying factor and computation of need based minimum wage,” NFIR said, adding a comparison with earlier pay panels reveals several of the current recommendations are negative and illogical.

URMU activists sit on dharna against Railway authorities

Members of the Uttar Railway Mazdoor Union (URMU) started a three-day dharna against the Railway authorities and administration, in support of their demands at the railway station campus in Ambala Cantonment today. The agitation was led by Union president Vijay Chopra and more than 200 employees participated. Their demands include no entry of FDI in Railways, stopping privatisation and no implementation of 7th Pay Commission because the employees would suffer and it was also against their interests.

Hubli Divisional Railway staff stage protest

Members of the Hubballi Division of South Western Railway Mazdoor Union staging a demonstration in Hubballion Tuesday
Members of the Hubballi Division of South Western Railway Mazdoor Union staging a demonstration in Hubballion Tuesday

Members of Hubballi Division of the South Western Railway Mazdoor Union staged a protest here on Tuesday seeking fulfilment of their charter of demands, including rectifying anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations.

The railway employees staged the protest in response to a call given by the Karnataka Joint Council of Action of Central Government Employees for a three-day protest from Tuesday to Thursday. Various Union government employees unions have come under the umbrella of the Joint Council of Action to fight for their demands.Staging the protest in front of the office of the Divisional Railway Manager of Hubballi Division, the protesters alleged that the Union government had failed to address their grievances and fulfil their demands. They urged the Union government to look into the charter of demands, which contains 26 of them.

Some of the demands are minimum wages of Rs. 26,000; revision of pay matrix based upon minimum wages; filling vacant posts; scrapping of national pension scheme (NPS); revision of Union government employees every five years; and withdrawal of stipulated ceiling on compassionate appointments.

As per the protest plan of the joint council, the protests would be held at the office of the Divisional Railway Manager of Bengaluru Division in Bengaluru on Wednesday and in front of the Defence Office near TV Tower in Bengaluru on Thursday.

 

Buckled under Union’s pressure, Southern Railway shunts tough officer

Trade Unions Strong Arm tacticsChennai: 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.

7th PC: Rail Union alleges 90% workers will suffer ‘take-home’ cuts

Largest Railway union irked over ‘take-home’ salary

New Delhi: The recommendations of the seventh central pay commission (CPC) would reduce, rather than increase, the ‘take-home’ salary of almost 90% of Indian Railways’ workforce, the largest railway trade union has alleged. It has also threatened to go on an indefinite strike in the first week of March in response to the panel’s recommendations.

The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), which represents more than 90% of the railways’ workforce, has said 1.3 million railway employees are ‘seriously disturbed’ over what they call retrograde recommendations of the panel with regard to their pay structure as their take-home salary would be less than what they currently receive, particularly employees living in government accommodation.

“Those being covered against pay levels 1 to 12 of the seventh CPC Pay Matrix are approximately 90% of the workforce in the Indian Railways and these employees are seriously disappointed as their ‘take-home’ salary after 10 years waiting would be reduced ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,000 per month with effect from 1 January 2016,” NFIR said in a statement, without explaining how it arrived at the conclusion.

In a response to the “illogical” recommendations, the Union has threatened to go on indefinite strike in the first week of March after participating in a three-day Dharna at Jantar Mantar along with employees of Defence and Postal services.

“The Seventh CPC has done grave injustice to the employees in the Railways as well in the Central Government employees with regard to multiplying factor and computation of need based minimum wage,” the NFIR said, adding a comparison with earlier pay panels reveals several of the current pay commission recommendations are negative and illogical.

The recommendations are effective from the current month and would lead to total annual wage burden of Rs 28,000 crore, the government estimates.

The Union also said that the hike in wages in general will either be marginal or less than what is received now in most of the cases of employees. “Experience proved that successive Pay Commissions’ reports have resulted into pay anomalies since the age old relativities in pay scales got disturbed and those aberrations continued unresolved for decades as the authorities always prefer to procrastinate matters,” NFIR General Secretary M Raghavaiah said in a strongly-worded statement.

The trade union termed it ‘sad’ that the seventh CPC had not seriously gone into the skills requirement, nature of duties, accountability, remoteness and arduousness of over 1.3 million railway employees. It complained the Pay Commission has recommended abolition of various allowances and interest free advances in the Railways, generating serious unrest among the employees.

Train drivers drag Indian Railways to Human Rights Commission

No toilet break during work, train drivers seek NHRC help

New Delhi: There are around 69,000 locomotive drivers for 19,000 trains in the country. However, these drivers complain they are working in cruel conditions and don’t get a break, even for few minutes, to eat something or to attend nature’s call. The engines where locomotive drivers have to be present for 12 hours do not have toilets for them.

Loco PilotsThe Indian Railway Loco Running Men’s Organization (IRLRO) said that conditions for drivers were inhumane and is leading to tremendous physical and mental stress, which could also be contributing to so many train accidents.

The railway board, however, believes that the drivers of trains – passenger, express, high speed and cargo – cannot be given a break in the interest of the public.

The IRLRO has already approached National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the issue. The matter is pending with the commission after the railway board informed the body that the demand of drivers cannot be fulfilled. Railways has claimed often that it was not feasible to authorise crew to halt a running train for taking refreshments and answer nature’s call as it may lead to unnecessary delays and adversely affect the operation of other trains.

“It’s only Indian Railways all over the world which denies basic human rights to its employees. These loco drivers hardly get a weekly off after driving the train continuously for 12 to 13 hours. According to the norms in different transportation systems – in road transport, a driver is allowed to take a break after five hours of driving on the road, in Delhi Metro, the train drivers are given 40 minutes break after every three hours. Similarly, airline pilots are also given regular breaks. In the case of train drivers, however, the breaks are of one or two minutes when the train stops at a platform. Can’t railway drivers even eat or go to toilet properly?” said S K Pandhi, working president of IRLRO.

Members of Railway Trade Unions oppose New Pension Scheme

Members of a Indian Railways union has opposed the new pension scheme and demanded that the employees should be kept out of the ambit of the scheme. Seeks Finance Minister intervention in 7th Pay Commission case.

Railway UnionsNew Delhi: Members of a railway union has opposed the new pension scheme and demanded that the employees should be kept out of the ambit of the scheme.

All-India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said that the union has urged Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to raise the matter with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to ensure the government keeps railway employees out of the ambit of new pension scheme.

Apprising Prabhu about railwaymen’s work in most precarious and arduous conditions, Mishra said, “Many employees lay down their lives while working on duty to keep the nation on move and trains on the run, therefore, like Armed Forces, concept of New Pension Scheme may also be abolished from Railways.”

Unions are drawing a parallel with the nature of duties performed by the armed forces

He said the National Pension System introduced from January 2004 has totally eroded the social security, and the staff appointed on or after this crucial date is always worried about their future.

AIRF also raised the issues of 7th Pay Commission recommendations with Prabhu and sought redressal.

Describing the recommendations as “retrograde”, Mishra said the report is not in the interest of railway men.

He urged upon the Railway Minister to raise the matter with Ministry of Finance before accepting the report of 7th CPC.

Prabhu seeks pension scheme exemption for railways workers

Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has urged Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to consider a long-pending demand of Railways employees to exempt them from the National Pension Scheme just like the defence forces.

“May I request you to kindly have a re-look into the case sympathetically and consider favourably the demand of the Railway Federations to exempt Railway employees from the purview of NPS,” the minister wrote in a letter last month, adding there was strong merit in the case.

Mr. Prabhu said railway unions had been drawing a parallel with the nature of duties performed by the armed forces, which are exempt from the NPS at present.

Mr. Prabhu informed the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) about his submission to the Finance Minister at a meeting on Wednesday.

The Minister recently also said that he was in discussion with the Finance Ministry seeking additional help to meet the ‘unbearable burden’ of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations.

Mallikarjun Kharge, the Railways Minister in the previous government, had also raised the issue with the then Finance Minister in March 2014.

However, the Ministry of Finance, through a letter written in May this year, didn’t agree to the proposal to exempt railway workers from the purview of NPS.

Every central government employee appointed on or after January 1, 2004, has to face a deduction from his or her salary (10 per cent equal contribution from the employee and the employer) toward the NPS, which is a defined contribution scheme, instead of the defined benefit scheme that prevailed earlier.

Prior to 2004, government employees, including 1.4 million employees in the Railways, were entitled to a fixed pension linked to their final salary at the time of their retirement.

Railway Staff on Southern Railway stage protests on various issues

Plan to make Railway Hospital into Health Unit condemned at Podanur

Coimbatore / Kannur: About 250 railway employees attached to the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) staged a demonstration in front of the Railway Hospital at Podanur on Tuesday, condemning railways for their proposed plan to make that hospital into a health unit.

Railway employees staging a protest at the railway hospital at Podanur in Coimbatore on Tuesday
Railway employees staging a protest at the railway hospital at Podanur in Coimbatore on Tuesday

The protesters said that in a recent visit to the hospital, a senior railway hospital authority had reportedly suggested that a health unit would be sufficient to meet the requirements here.

They said that facilities, doctors and availability of staff in the hospital would be reduced if it was made a health unit.

Employees said that there were more than 5,000 families of railway employees and retired railway employees residing in Podanur and nearby areas and that the hospital was catering to all their medical needs.

They said that on degrading it, their families would have to get treated in nearby private hospitals or travel far to reach the nearest railway hospital.

SRMU’s Salem Division and district level representatives also participated in the protest.

Railway staff in Kannur to stage protest today

Likewise, the Kannur branch of the All India Station Masters’ Association (AISMA) has urged the authorities to end the delay in providing apron facilities at the Kannur railway station to ensure cleanliness at the railway premises. Railway staff were being exposed to unhygienic conditions at the railway premises, the association said.

A press release issued by the AISMA branch secretary here said that the association would observe September 16 as protest day. Railway staff members here would wear badges as part of the protest on Wednesday.

The press release said that though the issue of health hazards caused by filth on railway yards at the station was brought to the notice of the Railway authorities concerned, no steps were taken to implement the demand for providing the apron with good drainage that would allow an effective cleaning of the yards.

The association highlighted the plight of shunting staff working with their feet and hands drenched in rain water mixed with filth on the yards. The plight of train examination and coach cleaning staff exposed to unhygienic conditions at the station and to diseases is not different, the release added.

Railway Employees demands OROP; says their duties too are ‘hazardous, risky & complex’

Marri RaghavaiahNew Delhi: With the government giving in-principle approval to the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for defence personnel, workers at Indian Railways, the country’s largest employer, are asking for similar pension benefit, arguing their duties too are “hazardous, risky and complex”.

Railway employees work at over 8,000 Railway stations covering more than 65,000 Kilometer of tracks and over 85% of Railway employees perform duties at remote places, extremist infested areas and places where no township or medical or drinking water or schooling facilities exist, National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), that represents over 90% of the railways 1.3 million strong workforce, said.

“The railway tracks are maintained by the employees facing inclement weather conditions and working under open sky akin to that of defence personnel. On an average 800 railway employees get killed per year in the course of performing duties and nearly 3,000 sustain injuries while on duty,” M Raghavaiah, General Secretary of NFIR said.

The defence veterans had called off their fast-unto-death after the OROP principle was accepted on Saturday, but said they will continue a scaled-down relay hunger strike as some issues remain, including the annual revision of salaries.

Raghavaiah appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to scrap the New Pension Scheme in railways and grant OROP to employees “as has been agreed to in the case of retiring defence personnel”.

According to NFIR, the government has subjected railway workers to injustice by governing them under the New Pension Scheme with effect from January 2004. Their demand for abolition of the scheme remains unresolved even after former rail minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s promise of exemption of rail workers from the scheme.

The federation is now busy sending letters to the PM, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in support of the “genuine demand” for extending OROP to railways. The move would benefit the 1.3 million serving employees and 1.5 million retired railway personnel.

In its support, the union is citing a recommendation of the Justice H R Khanna Railway Safety Review Committee that the working of the railway system is more like the armed forces and, therefore, Indian Railways functions differently from other government institutions.

NFIR is arguing the duties and responsibilities of its employees – train controllers, station masters, electric signal maintainer, technical staff, loco pilot, guards and technical supervisors — are the same as defence personnel in being unique and unmatched.

SRMU threaten Indefinite Strike starting Nov 23

SRMU objects to privatisation and FDI in railways.  However several railway employees across various zones opposing the move of Trade Unions stating that there is no better alternative at this stage for Indian Railways other than opting to FDI and PPP modes to improve the conditions, and to protect the Railway from total bankruptcy!

SRMU union membersChennai (MAS): Railway Unions will join an indefinite strike starting November 23 if the Union Government does not respond to the one-day strike held by trade unions on Wednesday, said N Kanniah, working president of All India Railwayman’s Federation and general secretary of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU). Railways was exempted from Wednesday’s strike.

Hundreds of Union staff staged a protest in front of the Southern Railway headquarters in Chennai during lunch break and also opposed the move to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) in railways and corporatisation of the Integral Coach Factory.

Addressing the employees gathered, Kanniah said: “Negotiations being held with multi-national firms like Alstom, Bombardier and ABB further aggravates the situation of industrial unrest forcing railwaymen to prepare for the proposed indefinite strike from November 23.”

He demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announce withdrawal of privatisation recommended by the Bibek Debroy Committee, scarping of cap on wage and bonus.  He also opposed Railways move to get a loan from life Insurance Corporation of India at 9% interest. This loan cannot be repaid unless the return on investment made by railways is not less than 14%. The projects taken up under political considerations and non-revision of passenger and freight tariff have resulted in less than 9% earnings in investments made by railways. The attempt to delay implementation of the seventh pay commission further erodes confidence of railwaymen, he adds.

Unions to make it tough for Bibek Debroy Committee’s Railway Reforms

The onus of the committee was “reorganising and restructuring the railway board and subsequently the department so that policy making and operations are separated, the department does not work in silos, policy making focusses on long-term and medium-term planning issues and operations focusses on day-to-day functioning of the organisation”.

The railway ministry’s plans to implement the Bibek Debroy committee report on railway reforms is expected to face the full might of the well-entrenched unions in the railways even before a small part of the committee’s recommendations can be implemented.

The onus of the committee was “reorganising and restructuring the railway board and subsequently the department so that policymaking and operations are separated, the department does not work in silos, policy making focusses on long-term and medium-term planning issues and operations focusses on day-to-day functioning of the organisation”.

Over the past few days, both the Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) as well as the Western Railway Employees Union (WREU) have protested against the committee report. While the WRMS functionaries made a bonfire of the report, WREU office-bearers observed June 30 as a black day.

In the next few weeks, when the ministry moves towards implementing the recommendations, the protests are expected to get more vociferous and widespread, functionaries cutting across union affiliations told.

“This is nothing but a move to privatise the railways and give its vast resources to private firms who can run it as an only-for-profit transport utility,” said Ajay Singh of the WRMS.

It is going to be tough going for the ministry as far as implementing the report is concerned, with both the unions as well as the well-entrenched bureaucracy privately opposing the committee recommendations. One of the most vast and entrenched bureaucracy in the country, the railways has been plagued with indecisiveness and infighting for years now, agreed officials.

“The railways might be the largest organisation under one management in terms of employees but the ground reality is different. The five most important streams of the railways — traffic, civil, mechanical, electrical and finance — behave almost independently. These departments, all under respective members (rank equivalent to secretary to government of India) generally work at cross purposes, slowing down the progress of the railways,” said a retired railway official.

The Bibek Debroy Committee

The seven-member committee was chaired by renowned economist Dr Bibek Debroy and will have among its members former cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekar. Other members of the committee are Gurcharan Das, former chairman and managing director of Procter and Gamble, professor Partha Mukhopadhyay, senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research, Ravi Narain, former managing director of the National Stock Exchange, Rajendra Kashyap, former financial commissioner of the railways and one as-yet-unnamed nominee of the department of economic affairs.

Railway Trade Unions oppose Debroy Panel report on Rail Reforms

There are undeveloped areas where railway can develop infrastructure for profit on large scale,” said R P Bhatnagar

New Delhi: Railway trade unions on Thursday demonstrated against the Bibek Debroy panel’s interim report on reforms and restructuring of the Indian Railways, demanding that it be scrapped. They see it as a move to gradually privatise railways. “We have thoroughly studied the interim report of the Bibek Debroy committee. It reflects that the committee has not closely studied the Indian railways’ functioning. It suggests that three departments of the railways — medical, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and infrastructure — be handled separately by private companies. It suggested that operations of railway services be handled by private companies. These factors are not in favour of growth of railways. We have given notice to the government that if this report is implemented we will go on strike,” said R P Bhatnagar, president of the Central Railway Majdoor Sabha (CRMS). “There are undeveloped areas where railway can develop infrastructure for profit on large scale,” added Bhatnagar. Y G Joshi , president of the National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU), said, “There is already an immediate need for approximately 2 lakh staff in the Railways. The population has grown, the number of trains has increased , so manpower should balance it. The government should be looking at these aspects. Instead, the committee report suggested introduction of private players in operating goods trains, mail and suburban trains.” They asked who would ensure coordination if infrastructure, operations and maintenance in railways are dealt with by different private companies “Season tickets are cheaper than any other existing fare. If private companies come into this, the cost will increase for passengers. We have already seen the fare hike of Metro Rail that’s handled by a private company,” said Divakar Deo, general secretary of the Rail Kamgar Sena (RKS).

Unions’ should not Derail the Process of Rail Reforms; Let the Government take Historic Decision atleast Now!

It will be the first “reform-oriented” government assumed charge at the Centre, and Suresh Prabhu will be the first Railway Minister with a reputation for reforms in backdrop of the deliberations of yet another ‘High Powered Committee’ headed by Bibek Debroy that is after that seemingly endless quest: “How to ‘reform’ the Indian Railways?”

There is no bigger controversial and emotionally charged subject associated with reforms in the Railways than the ‘P’ word. The arguments at both ends of the spectrum are often ideologically driven, dogmatic and ill-informed. The sheer number of reports and policy prescriptions that have emerged over the last few decades as to what ails the Indian Railways and what needs to be done to set things right should make one wonder why nothing substantial is being done to change things if the remedies are so obvious for the last more than two decades. And, the so called ‘policy-makers’ so easily allowed Railways to ruin by itself day by day, with no remedy or corrective action taken.  What does it speaks about?  Clearly the problems lies with the decision makers of previous governments. However the so called key influential groups i.e. Trade Unions also ensured that their job is to oppose any reforms in the Railways and raise heavy slogans, but when it comes to corrective steps for healthy Railway system, these Unions were silent.  Why?

Last week, NFIR reportedly wrote letters to Railway Minister stating that they oppose nomination of Consultants like “Ernst and Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PWCs” and asked the Minister to see that the precipitated steps for Railway reforms are contained and, are not resorted to, expressing fear that such actions would harm the Railways and disturb the industrial relations.

It is highly surprising to see the letter signed by Marri Raghavaiah as to how seeking expert reports from seasoned International Consultant entities like Ernst and Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PWCs for evaluation of the process of “reforms” in an organisational behemoth like Indian Railways would hamper industrial relations and harm Railways.  He even went and declared “Rail Bachao Andolan” on 25th June, and asked his affiliates to hold protests, demonstrations, mass rallies, gate meetings etc., at different places, at all levels, strongly protesting against the recommendations of Bibek Debroy Committee.

If it is the stand of a responsible GS of a reputed Trade Union, then what is his alternative suggestion to put derailed Indian Railways back on track?  Why was he silent all those years when Indian Railways was successfully ruined by the earlier governments and importantly the earlier Rail Ministers? Where was he at the time when the finances of Indian Railways were diminishing and why he has not asked the past Railway Ministers to streamline their acts that hamper the financial, operational and technical strength of Railway system in India? Obviously he cannot answer this question.

There have never been any contrasting views about the fact that the Indian Railways badly needed a face-lift. Governments have come and gone, committees formed and their reports were reviewed and were conveniently put in trash, but the railways never changed for decades.  Filthy platforms, manual scavengers at work, trains running hours behind schedule and inability to catch up with the safety standards, unable to catch up with the evolving Rail Technologies, unable to utilise the services of Technical arms like ISRO, IIMs and IITs in gradual benchmarking of standards and implement new and innovative technologies etc are some of the trademarks that our Railways have earned till now, over the decades. And yet, the so called intellectuals from Trade Unions conveniently remained silent.  Have you slept with your eyes open?  If so, why?  Were you not a responsible Railwaymen to correct the things happening right in front of your eyes all these years? No he does not have any answer to say…

Indian Railways constitute one of the largest and most wide spread Railway systems in the world under single management.  The track route kms is nearly 6 times bigger than that of earth’s equitorial diameter.

The latest in the series of committees formed to recommend measures for railways’ reforms is the Bibek Debroy committee, whose recommendations came out recently. One of the reasons why it didn’t catch much limelight was that most of its recommendations were a repeat of suggestions put forward by many earlier committees. The major ones among them were increasing the role of private players in Railways, formation of an independent regulator ‘Railway Regulatory Authority of India’ to decide on tariffs, activities like running railway schools and hospitals to be given into private hands, re-shuffling of the higher railway cadre and amalgamating the Railway budget with the General Union Budget itself. As expected, the recommendations brought out contrasting reactions and interpretations from different sections. While the railway labour unions are worried about the intrusion of private players, the officers are worried about the proposed ‘re-shuffling’.

As the Debroy committee report came out, many television debates interpreted it as favouring privatization of Railways, which is actually not the case. The report clearly states that the private players should be allowed to implement private railway projects and handle the add-on responsibilities of railways such as its schools, real estates and hospitals, so that the Railways can concentrate on its core duty at hand, i.e. running rails. Since the entire infrastructure is handled and maintained by the Railways, the terms and conditions of running private rails would need to be negotiated holistically. But these negotiations mustn’t scare away the Government from taking a step in this direction. With the socialist economic model dying its natural death, an increased role of private players is doing wonders across the world. Even in India, telecom and aviation are two prime examples of how private players can revolutionize the sector and bring world class services within the reach of the masses. Privatization brings with itself some much needed characteristics of a successful business, viz. competition, quality, and improving access.

Going by the existing and enhancing bonhomie between the present BJP Government and many industrial barons in the country, it may not be long before the private players are given a taste of railways. And this is where the danger lies, as is observed by the Trade Unions.  Monopoly and crony capitalism are two of the most dreaded aspects of privatization. While the private players must be welcomed into the ring, the Bibek Debroy Committe also suggested that the Government must formulate a strict Regulator for Railways, which is a welcome suggestion.

Also, there is a need to look at alternatives to railways. It goes without saying that road network is crying for an improvement. In addition, India is blessed to have many rivers. But, regrettably we have never realized the true potential of water bodies. Cargo transportation through waterways is highly underutilized in India. The cargo transported by Inland waterway in India is a paltry 0.1% of the net inland traffic. The same number stands at 21% for the USA! China’s navigable inland waterways stand at 125,000 Kilo Meters against India’s 14,500 KM! The underutilization of waterways has put further stress on the already weak railways infrastructure, thereby reducing its efficiency. Last month, the Government introduced the National Waterways Bill in the Lok Sabha to add on 101 new national waterways in the country. With no hurry visible from either side, the bill can’t be expected to turn into a reality very soon, which implies that for now, railways has nowhere else to look for support!

Indian Railways presents an intriguing case study. It is a business where customers line up months in advance, hence the demand is over the roof all year long! But the provider refuses to provide quality services even when the customer is ready to pay the price! It would be incorrect to take railways as a purely commercial entity since it has many social obligations. But at the end of the day, it must at least provide what it is meant for – meet the demands in a safe and comfortable way. There have been atleast two derailments on an average per week on Indian Railways.  What does that speak?  It is due to non-strengthening of the track, earth works, alignment works, signal and telecom system and last but not the least, the antiquated track systems. If the Railways are indeed to be given an overhaul, private sector participation is inevitable. Significant reforms also need a modicum of consensus among all stake holders including the political establishment and cannot be rammed down from above through executive fiats and diktats. It is now up to the Government to decide if it has enough guts to withstand opposing views and implement the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy committee or to opt for the tried and tested path and say, ‘Let it be, let the next Government take the plunge’!

NFIR seeks Review of ₹2500 Crore RFQ for Procurement-cum-Maintenance of 15 Loco Free Train Sets from Pvt Cos

National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), the largest Indian Railways workers union, has opposed the government’s latest move to call global tenders worth Rs 2,500 crore for procurement-cum-maintenance of 15 locomotive-free train sets from private players for 5 years.

Bringing private players in the area of maintenances of coaches is contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that railways will not be privatised, the trade union body that represents 80% of the Indian Railways’ 1.3 million-strong workforce has said.

“The federation strongly opposes this step of the government as at present maintenance of Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) trains are being done by the railways staff efficiently and the new Loco-free train sets should be allowed to be maintained by Indian Railways’ supervisors and staff who may be trained in handling new technology,” NFIR General Secretary M Raghavaiah said in a statement.

He added the Federation will meet rail minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu seeking a review of the government’s “improper” decision as the existing railway staff is capable of absorbing new skills. The tender is part of a project lined up under the ambitious “Make in India” initiative for procurement-cum-maintenance of 315 coaches which are to be used to enable faster inter-city travel.

Each of the 15 train sets will comprise coaches powered by dedicated propulsion systems, eliminating the need for locomotives to haul these trains. The successful bidder will import two train sets while the rest will have to be manufactured domestically.

The Ministry of Railways had floated the Request for Qualification (RFQs) for the project last month seeking global manufacturers to join the bidding process. The bids are likely to be opened in August for short-listing the qualified bidders. Rail minister Prabhu had said in Bengaluru on Saturday his ministry is looking at setting up integrated transport systems for major cities including Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Railway union members to oppose Debroy Commission report, protest on 25th

Ahmedabad (ADI):  J G Mahurkar, general secretary of Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS), announced widespread protest against the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy Commission report on Indian Railways and said that the railway workers would not tolerate the sweeping changes. The union members would stage protests at various Divisional RM offices on June 25.

Talking to the media, Mahurkar said that a decade ago the Rakesh Mohan Committee report was tabled which was criticized and shelved. “The present government has brought back the same report in the new garb which is not at all in favour of the railway employees. The British had set up the entire railway system 150 years ago and since then railway employees got access to its hospitals, schools and amenities. With the recommendations, the government wants to strip the employees of all these benefits,” he said.

He added that they will burn the report copies and will force the government not to implement it keeping in mind the best interest railway employees.

Railway Union to observe ‘Black Day’ on June 30

New Delhi: An official panel’s recommendation to allow private players in Railways has met with strong opposition from employees’ union which has given a call for observing “black day” on June 30 across the country.

“We have decided to observe black day on June 30 all over the country by wearing black badges,” said Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, All India Railway Federation.

Terming it as a “clear roadmap for privatisation”, Mishra said, “We hope that the Debroy report will not be accepted by the government.”

In its report, the Bibek Debroy committee has recommended a whole set of reforms including entry of private players into railways, separation of off-line activities from core business, passing on subsidies to the Centre and an end to the practice of a separate budget.

The report is against 95 per cent of rail passengers of the country who travel in general and sleeper classes, Mishra said.

The panel however said it is not recommending privatisation of Railways by means of sale of equity but endorses private entry with the provision of an independent regulator.

For open access of other players, it has recommended separation of track construction operation, train operation and rolling stock production units under separate entities.

The high-level committee was formed in September to restructure the Railways and suggest ways for resource mobilisation. After the receipt of the final report, the Railway Board is to submit a report on it to the Prime Minister by June-end.

A Railways spokesperson said the Railways will examine the report and only then a decision will be taken.

Scrap Bibek Debroy report on Railway restructuring: say Unions

New Delhi: Angry about the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy-led panel,  Railway trade unions are planning to launch mass demostrations and large scale rallies in protest. They are also demanding scrapping of the report that recommends “privatisation in the name of liberalisation”.

“A bare perusal of the report reveals that the committee in the name of liberalisation has recommended entry of new operators into railway operations, that is, privatisation,” said Guman Singh, President of National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), which represents more than 80% of Indian Railways’ over 1.3 million workers.

The federation’s press secretary also said the unions’ brass has given clear directions to its affiliates to arrange mass demonstrations, large scale protest rallies and press conferences to express the anger of the railway employees against the recommendations of the committee.

Planning Commission member Bibek Debroy had on Friday submitted his report on the restructuring of the railway board and mobilisation of resources for railway projects to the rail ministry. He is also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the weekend to brief him about the recommendations.

While Debroy has recommended liberalisation of railways and sought to define liberalisation separately from privatisation in the report, he has also said that entry of private players into the system is already provided by the extant policy.

Trade unions fear any effort at bringing in private players into railway operations would jeopardise workers’ jobs and negatively impact railways’ financial health.

The Debroy panel has also recommended setting up an independent regulator, merging of the eight existing Group A railway services, rationalising of the workforce and restructuring of Indian Railways on the lines of British railways.

Unions complain Debroy did not examine the actions of successive governments in starving the railways of investments and instead blamed the workforce for its problems.

NFIR said it is not desirable to experiment with FDI and private players in infrastructure without building massive railway infrastructure first and in his euphoria for a roadmap, Debroy ignored the shortcomings of European railways including the failed privatisation model of British Railways.

“Restructuring cannot be an exercise subjected to such a ‘disastrously confused perspective’ of connecting the current state of affairs with what is desired for the future,” the union said in its comments on the report.

The other influential union, All India Railway Federation (AIRF) has also called for observing June 30 as “Black Day” in protest of the Debroy report. AIRF General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra termed the report as clear roadmap for privatisation and hoped its recommendations are not accepted by the government.

There are some good things in the Debroy Panel Report: AIRF

While rejecting the final report of the railway restructuring committee headed by Bibek Debroy, the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) has welcomed some of its recommendations.

“We support the idea of accounting reforms. But, as far as any regulator is concerned, we want the regulator to be a tariff authority only, instead of being responsible for operations and maintenance as well,” AIRF General Secretary Shivagopal Mishra, told.

Admitting that there is departmentalism in the Railways, Mishra said a mechanism needed to be worked out to make Indian Railways work as a team.

But, the mechanism needs to be different from what has been suggested by the Bibek Debroy committee, he added.

Railway workers plan stir against Centre’s labour laws

New Delhi: Voicing concern over Centre’s plan to introduce reforms in labour laws and liberalise FDI in railways, Hind Mazdoor Sabha has announced a nationwide indefinite strike of railway workers in November.

It will be the first general strike by railway workers in 41 years. Employees of other Central Government establishments are likely to join the stir.

“Amendments planned by the Centre to labour laws will paralyse workers as they won’t be able to form unions. If anyone tries to raise demands through strike, their protest will be termed illegal. They will be punished, penalized.

“Keeping in mind dilution of labour laws and liberalization of FDI in railways in addition to our 34 other demands, we have decided to call the strike across India,” HMS General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Sidhu said, referring to the amendments proposed to the Industrial Disputes Act and Centre’s plan to allow 100 per cent FDI in railways.

Sidhu said allowing FDI will lead to complete control of private parties over railway management and insisted the decision be rolled back.

HMS’s 34-point charter of demands include removing alleged anomalies in Sixth Pay Commission, imposing ban on outsourcing regular works on contract like track maintenance and recruiting personnel.

Sidhu said employees from departments of defence, postal services, coal, civil aviation, port and dock, income and sales tax too will join the railway men in the strike.

HMS said Indian Railway employees had last called for a strike in 1974. Around 17 lakh workers were believed to have participated in the 20-day strike affecting services.

“There has been no strike in Indian Railways after 1974.

Whenever we announced battles, the Indian Government did accept our demands. But the Government is meting injustice to workers leading to our decision to go on strike,” Sidhu added.

Rail union rejects Debroy report

New Delhi: Wherever the railway system has been privatised, government subsidy to the system has increased five-six times and passenger and freight charges have also increased subsequently, Shiva Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, All India Railwaymen Federation , the largest union of Indian Railways, said in a release. In fact, British and New Zealand railway systems had to be re-nationalised, AIRF pointed out, while rejecting the interim recommendations on restructuring of the Railways by a committee headed by Bibek Debroy.

Railway workers union trashes Bibek Debroy report on restructuring

Raises questions over most of the recommendations made by NITI Aayog in a scathing 32-page letter

New Delhi: The Bibek Debroy committee’s report on ways to restructure and modernise Indian Railways has come in for severe criticism from the workers union – National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR)  – that represents majority of the 13 lakh railway employees.

In a scathing 32-page letter to Debroy, the federation has trashed most of the recommendations made by the NITI Aayog member including introduction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and private partnership in operations, formation of a regulatory authority and revamping the railway board through its bifurcation.

NFIR has alleged Debroy did not examine the actions of successive governments in starving the railways of investments and deliberately withholding passenger fare hikes through a decade.

“For instance, when fares were raised and withdrawn during one railway budget, the loss was around Rs 7,000 crore. The organisation is not responsible for the investment starved situation,” the union said.

According to NFIR, it is not desirable to experiment with FDI and private players in infrastructure without building massive railway infrastructure first. It argues political compulsions and commitments are responsible for slowing down of the railway network and train speeds and not railway workforce.

“In its euphoria to provide a new roadmap for the Railways, with private players pitching in, perhaps the committee has failed to go deep into these initiatives on the European railways, whose tariffs soared, and most of the rail systems such as the one in Britain still provide huge subsidies to infrastructure companies, which remain state-owned,” the letter said.

The workers union also invoked British author and railway historian Christian Wolmar to highlight the failed privatisation experiment in British railways which has been recommended by Debroy. Wolmar had stated that “privatisation and fragmentation had created a dysfunctional (British) railways as it was undertaken for ideological and financial reasons with little consideration of passengers.”

Interestingly, the union has also claimed that either the inputs for the Debroy panel were hurriedly taken from the railway board or sufficient time was not spent in understanding what was supplied.

“For instance, a table at Page 66 of Debroy report wrongly shows Parbhani as another division under South Central Railway whereas it has only 6 divisions-Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal and Nanded,” NFIR contended.

Trashing Debroy’s argument in favour of increasing competition by introduction of new players, NFIR argued his report has ignored how, thanks to massive gauge conversion exercise since 1990s, Indian Railways has managed to successfully increase freight volumes without substantial increase in route Kilometer.

“There are certain elements of discord and inconsistency within the report. For instance, it is stated the Committee does not recommend privatisation of IR except in very specific non-core segments and goes on to state that privatisation is to be implemented as liberalisation while deliberating on rationalising production of rolling stock, which is essentially a core segment of IR. This is basically the irony of the entire report,” NFIR said in its letter.

The union has also cautioned against the negative impact of introducing PPP at a time when projects worth Rs 1.86 lakh crore to be implemented under the mode are virtually stalled.

“Restructuring cannot be an exercise which can be subjected to such a disastrously confused perspective of connecting the current state of matters with what can be actually and effectively desired for the future,” the letter stated.

Criticising the Debroy panel for failing to understand the real reason for a regulatory body, NFIR has argued “the necessity is perhaps of not a ‘Regulatory’ mechanism but of an automatically processed routing-and-rating system in-built within the IR. Similarly, if Pension liability is ‘unbundled’ from IR’s liability, staff costs would sound almost menial.”

The union has said Debroy panel missed the crux of the issue – unlike many other railways in the world, Indian Railways has not had a connection between the volume of freight carried on a line and the freight rate fixed for that line.

The letter also states that panel has wrongly concluded that Indian Railways is to be freed from certain activities in order to concentrate on core business. It asks the committee to appreciate that self-sufficiency is essential in production and maintenance of locomotives and coaches and entrusting railways’ activities to outside agencies would dilute quality of service.

Railway workers union says

  • Debroy did not examine the actions of successive governments in starving the railways of investments and blamed workforce for problems
  • It is not desirable to experiment with FDI and private players in infrastructure without building massive railway infrastructure first
  • In euphoria for roadmap, Debroy ignored the shortcomings of European railways including the failed privatization model of British Railways
  • A table in Debroy report wrongly considers Parbhani as a Division under South-Central Railway while it is actually not, indicating the inputs were taken by the panel hurriedly from the railway board
  • Restructuring cannot be an exercise subjected to such a “disastrously confused perspective” of connecting the current state of affairs with what is desired for the future

IRAS body demands higher representation in Financial Advisor posts either on rotation or permanent basis

New Delhi:  The 7th Pay Commission has virtually become a battleground for IAS versus all other central services. The latest to join the fight against alleged discrimination is the Indian Railway Accounts Service which has raised a technical point before the panel: out of 30 posts of financial advisors in joint secretary and additional secretary level in the government, 17 are manned by IAS which has no specialization whatsoever.

Those with specialization like the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS), Indian Defence Accounts and Indian Audit Accounts are rarely accepted beyond director level, a representation from the IRAS association said. Sources said the pay commission chairman has called for a detailed analysis, besides the pay parity and delay in empanelment of cadres other than the IAS.

Earlier, the IRS association had demanded scrapping of the empanelment process which is dominated by the IAS. The IPS association had quoted statistics to demonstrate how other central services, which come through common selection process, were discriminated both in pay and positions compared to the ‘elite’ Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

Financial AdvisorsLike railway officers, the IPS association had pointed out to the commission how the IAS had cornered specialized posts in the internal security department of the home ministry – out of 20 joint secretaries in the home ministry only one is an IPS, the rest are IAS.

The key department handling the country’s internal security is not even headed by an IPS which has specialization in policing.

Those who have exercised finance functions throughout are not considered for the posts of financial advisors in various ministries, the IRAS association has claimed.

“Mere stint or two in the area of financial management in one’s career is not good enough for being considered as FAs in ministries,” railway officers have said, seeking an end to IAS domination over specialized positions.

One reason for IAS domination, officers of these three services have claimed, is the “discriminatory” empanelment process where the civil services board, comprising only IAS officers headed by the cabinet secretary, has complete say. There is no representation of any of the other 35 central services in the board.

“IAS decides the fate of all 37 services. This is not just and the board must have representatives of all other services either on rotation or permanent basis,” the railway officers have demanded. IRS officers had even sought scrapping of the board.

About 75% of joint secretaries, 85% of additional secretaries and 90% of secretaries are from IAS. The proportion of IAS dramatically increases from 10-12% at the level of directors to 75% at the JS level, according to the IPS association.

Indian Railway Promotee Officers’ Federation

New Delhi: Indian Railway Promotee Officers’ Federation is holding a meeting at Railway Board Conference Hall at 10.00 a.m on

  1. Cadre Review
  2. Extension of Non-functional scale
  3. Recruitment Rules for ANO
  4. DPC for Misc. cadre
  5. DPC of Education department
  6. Restructuring of Gr.A Cadre
  7. Restructuring/reorganization of IT/ICT/Computer cadre on Railways and PUs.
  8. Nursing allowance for ANOs
  9. Merger of PRO Cadre
  10. Adhoc Sr.Scale promotions in Medical department
  11. Career Progress to Gr. B Officers of Misc.Cadre.
  12. Pending Items of the Last Meeting
  13. Date of effect of Ante dating
  14. Cadre restructuring/upgradation of Group B
  15. Benefit of fixation of pay on promotion to Sr. Scale from the date of increment
  16. Increasing trend of stagnation- Promotion from Group ‘B’ to Group ‘A’.
  17. Reservation applied to GP Rs.5400 & calculation of vacancies for 80% upgradation to GP Rs. 5400.

DOWNLOAD AGENDA: IRPOA Meet at Railway Board

Trade Unions passes Resolution for Indefinite Strike from 23rd November 2015

Secunderabad (SC): The massive congregation of the representatives of Central Govt Employees who have come from various parts of the country held at Jantar Mantar before the Indian Parliament on 28-04-2015 decided to commence the indefinite strike action from 23rd November 2015 from 6 AM having failed to elicit any positive response from the Government in settlement of the 10 point Charter of Demands submitted a months back. It was also decided that the Railways and Defence organizations will conduct the strike Ballot as per the provision of the Industrial Disputes Act and Recognition Rules before commencing the strike from 23-11-2015.

The massive gathering adopted the resolution unanimously exhorting the central Govt. Employees to prepare for the eventual strike action in all earnestness and make it a historic one, while congratulating the employees for forging exemplary unity and carrying out various programmes chalked out by the National Joint Council of Action (NJCA) after the national convention on 11th December 2014.

Even though the Govt. was compelled to set up the 7th CPC on account of the sanctions generated through the action programmes, Govt. has refused to grant Interim Relief and merger of DA and excluded the Gramin Dak Sewaks of the Postal Department from the ambit of the 7th CPC.

It is a matter of regret that in spite of public admission of non-privatisation of Indian Railways by Prime Minister of India and assurance of Minister of Railways on various occasions, including Parliament, Dr.Bibek Debroy Committee had submitted a report which is a clear roadmap for privatisation of IR, alleged unions.

The meeting noted that the Government has purposely ensured the closure of Joint Consultative Machinery, the negotiating forum set up in 1966 for Central Government Employees to discuss and bring about settlement of their demands.

The meeting chaired by Secretary (Personnel) on 25th February 2015 did not bring about settlement on any single issue of the Charter of Demands.

The meeting unanimously decided to demand before the Government to convene the meeting of National Council, JCM immediately and settle the following charter of demands, if at all it wants to avoid confrontation with its own employees.

CHARTER OF DEMANDS:-

  1. Effect wage revision of the Central Government Employees from 01.01.2014, accepting the memorandum of the Staff Side JCM; ensure 5-year wage revision in future; grant Interim Relief and Merger of 100% of DA. Ensure submission of the 7th CPC report within the stipulated time frame of 18 months; include the Grameen Dak Sewaks within the ambit of the 7th Settle all anomalies of the 6th CPC.
  2. No privatisation, PPP or FDI in Railways and Defence Establishments and no corporatisation of postal services.
  3. No Ban on recruitment/creation of post.
  4. Scrap PFRDA Act and re-introduce the defined benefit statutory pension scheme.
  5. No outsourcing; contractorisation, privatisation of governmental functions; withdraw the proposed move to close down the Printing Presses; the publication, form store and stationery departments and Medical Stores Depots; regularise the existing daily rated/casual and contract workers and absorption of trained apprentices.
  6. Revive the JCM functioning at all levels as an effective negotiating forum for settlement of the demands of the CGEs.
  7. Remove the arbitrary ceiling on compassionate appointments.
  8. No labour reforms which are inimical to the interest of the workers.
  9. Remove the ceiling on payment of Bonus.
  10. Ensure five promotions in the service career.

The meeting authorized the National JCA to take appropriate and necessary steps needed to make the indefinite strike beginning from 23rd November 2015 an unprecedented and grand success.

NFIR wants new Pension Scheme for Railway staff to be Scrapped

New Delhi: The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NIFR) today demanded scrapping of the new pension scheme for the railway employees and continuation of the old one.

“The Centre had issued orders that the railway staff appointed on or after January 1, 2004 would fall under the new pension scheme,” NFIR general secretary J G Mahurkar told reporters here today.

It means the government had no pension liability since the Pension Fund created under the Act was to be administered by a private insurance company, which would invest the fund in the share market, which only went to benefit the corporates, he added.

“Under the new scheme, the widows of the railway employees appointed on or after that date (January 1, 2004), will not be entitled to get pension. Therefore, we want the old pension scheme to continue,” he said.

The NFIR in its general council meeting held on April 28 and 29 in New Delhi, also passed the resolutions to withdraw of New Pension scheme, stopping outsourcing of railway, filling up 1.5 lakh vacancies in safety category, among other things.

National Federation of Railway Union announces Indefinite Strike on 23 Nov 2015

New Delhi: National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR), a trade union body representing 77 per cent of Indian railways’ 1.31-million workers, has called a nationwide strike from November 23 against the government’s plan to bring in private participation in railway projects and the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy.

“The strike will bring to halt 19,000 trains across the nation beginning 6:00 am on November 23 impacting 20 million passengers. The call for the strike was announced at a massive protest today (Tuesday) outside Sansad Bhawan by NFIR,” said the federation’s press secretary S N Malik.

NFIR general secretary M Raghavaiah said around 100,000 central government employees – largely belonging to Railways apart from other sectors including defence – participated in the protest. “About 3.4 million central employees representing these sectors are part of this protest against FDI and public private partnership policy,” he said.

NFIR has also demanded immediate withdrawal of a recent report by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy on resource mobilisation for Indian Railways, which has recommended roping in private sector participation.

Imperative for Government Departments to modernize Systems by making best use of IT & ICT: President of India

President Pranab Mukherjee addressing with the Probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service & Indian P&T Service from National Institute of Financial Management at Rashtrapati Bhavan
President Pranab Mukherjee addressing with the Probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service & Indian P&T Service from National Institute of Financial Management at Rashtrapati Bhavan

New Delhi: Probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service and Indian P&T Finance & Accounts Service called on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee today (April 20, 2015) at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Addressing the probationers, the President said that good ‘Public Financial Management System’ (PFMS) is the key to good governance. The organized accounting services that they represent are charged with the responsibility of building and maintaining a strong and robust system of financial management. In almost all countries of the world today, there is a move towards developing ‘Integrated Financial Management Information Systems’ (IFMIS) and towards setting up Standards in Accounting, Auditing and Budgeting. The Government of India is also moving towards such a system. In India today this is a necessity in view of the increasing quantum of public expenditures which require a sound system of tracking, monitoring and reporting to be in place. In developing such a system we need to learn from best global practices and build upon them.

The President said that there are rising expectations amongst the public for greater efficiencies in service delivery accompanied by transparency and accountability in government processes. In order to address these concerns, it is imperative for Government Departments to modernize systems by making best use of Information & Communication Technology and to make such systems citizen-centric, secure, efficient, economical and transparent. The Tax Information Network, OLTAS, the National Pension System are all extremely fine examples of pan-India systems which have simplified life for the ordinary citizen and have introduced greater efficiency and transparency in key areas of Government’s functioning. He emphasized that this trend shall only intensify in the future and he urged all officers to take part, as and when they have the opportunity to do so, in the development of such pan-India systems.

The President said that he had been informed that NIFM, apart from a multitude of on-campus activities, also organizes attachments for probationers with various offices and organizations of relevance where they are exposed to practical aspects of governance. He expressed happiness that probationers are also taken to the USA for an exposure to financial management practices at the federal and the provincial government levels. He urged the probationers to assimilate the learnings that they gather from such important country exposures and apply them appropriately in the Indian context.

The President said that keeping pace with the fast-changing world of information and communication technology also requires constant up-gradation of systems and processes. We need to examine how best we may use technology to make our payment and accounting systems seamless, as also progressively use IT tools in auditing to not only unearth frauds but also to evaluate and monitor the processes and outcomes of various government schemes. The challenges are many and the opportunities are vast and immense. He said he was sure that all of them will rise to the occasion and live up to the expectations of their countrymen.

The President said that the Government of India decided to establish the ‘National Institute of Financial Management’ (NIFM) in 1993 to train the newly recruited officers of the Finance and Accounts Services. The idea behind setting up NIFM was not only to train probationers in subjects related to Financial Management but also to inculcate a sense of camaraderie and esprit d’ corps amongst service officers. The opportunity of staying and learning together with officers from the different accounting services shall prove to be extremely beneficial to them in the years to come, he said.

The President said that as Union Finance Minister, he was the President of the NIFM Society between 2009 and 2012 which gave him the opportunity of getting to know about the activities of NIFM. He said that he was happy to say that NIFM had progressed well in the two decades of its existence. Various long term courses and Management Development Programs on cutting edge financial issues are now being organized by NIFM in addition to training programs in public financial management for Defence Services, State Governments, Banks, Public Sector Enterprises, Autonomous bodies and other stakeholders of Government. Another important area that they have branched out into is organizing long term and short term courses on financial and securities markets in collaboration with the BSE and NSE. It was a matter of satisfaction that NIFM had entered into MoUs with various Universities and institutions in the USA, Europe and Asia, apart from tie-ups with various institutions in India. He stated that these collaborations need to be encouraged as they impart a much needed global perspective to the learning that is imparted and also allow for cross cultural sharing of ideas and experiences.

GRP with Violent & Unnatural Behaviour in Railway areas: DRM/Pune Warns ‘Stern Action’ against Delinquents

Pune: The recent incident in which Patas station manager was manhandled by a Government Railway Police (GRP) official has snowballed into a controversy after the All India Station Managers Association (AISMA) conducted a meeting and wrote protest letters to the GRP and the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

DRM, Pune Division of Central Railway Mr.Suneet Sharma said, “FIR has been registered against the GRP official who manhandled the Patas station manager. I spoke to the GRP officials and have warned that such incidents should not be repeated. These incidents are rare and action has been taken to deter violent and unnatural behaviour of any official in the future.”

Despite repeated attempts, Daund GRP officials could not be contacted.

The All India Station Masters’ Association had threatened to halt trains in case GRP officials misbehave with railway employees in the future. Speaking about the incident, Pradeep Hadke, Station Manager of Patas railway station said, “I was on night duty on Saturday when GRP official MP Salunkhe entered my cabin at around 8.30 pm. He became violent when I asked him to leave as he was speaking in a loud voice and causing disturbance.”

Hadke alleged that Salunkhe hit him on the head and went out and broke a locked store room door.

“The other GRP officials tried to pacify Salunkhe and later took him away,” said Hadke.

President of All India Station Managers’ Association, VL Kirtikar told  on Monday that a meeting of stations managers of Pune Division was conducted and the association discussed the repeated errant behaviour of GRP officials against station managers.

“GRP officials are meant to ensure safety on the stations. If they themselves become violent, they will not be able to provide safety to passengers. Hence, the association wants GRP officials especially on night duty to be given  counselling lessons,” he added.

Marathi actor’s wife accuses GRP officials for using her husband as honey-trap to milk money from gay men!

In a shocking incident a Marathi actor Ajinkye Shinde’s wife alleged that eight Government Railway Police officials had used the actor to extort money from gay men!  It was revealed that a small-time Marathi actor Ajinkye Shinde was being exploited by eight GRP officials. The actor was asked to pose as a gay man near urinals at Kharghar, Panvel and Belapur stations by the GRP officials, to lure in homosexual men who were interested to have sex with him. Once the actor would take the men to a safe spot, the GRP officials would take over the situation. They would then extort the lured men and if they didn’t abide by the demands, the GRP officials would threaten the innocuous men of revealing their sexual orientation to their families.

The gory details of this racket were revealed to the GRP commissioner by one of the men, an RBI official, who was lured in by Ajinkye but he refused to give the GRP officials any money. He wrote to the GRP commissioner informing him about the racket and post that Shinde went underground.

But after he was called in to the police station by the officials, Ajinkye is being used as a scapegoat in this case, so says his wife Supriya.

She told the leading daily, “So many officers are involved in this crime and they had lured my husband with money and even a job with the police if he helped them in the racket. These same officers are now threatening that they will not leave us alone and will arrest Ajinkya in another case if we don’t keep our mouths shut.”

We are yet to find out the whole truth behind this case. Stay tuned for more updates.

Suresh Prabhu plans to carry Trade Unions along as he seeks to modernize Railways

New Delhi:  Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday said that employees’ unions are on board in revamping and revitalizing the decaying state-run transporter. The minister emphasized that everyone, from staff to officers of 17 zones and 68 divisions of railways across the country are working together to meet the common goal.

In an interview, the minister said that leaders of two big railway employees unions (All Indian Railwaymen Federation and National Federation of Indian Railways) have assured support in reviving railways. “I am very happy to say leaders of two big railway unions are also involved. They have said we want to work together to make railways better. We are trying to bring in transparency, improve efficiency, bring in more accountability and make management participatory. The leaders said they also want all these changes. So why do we oppose them,” Prabhu told.

Prabhu indicated that he is not in a hurry to push radical reforms that may annoy powerful unions and instead is trying to take them on board in his effort for capacity augmentation and modernization of railways. Replying to a question regarding recommendations of Debroy panel in its interim report, Prabhu said, “We have to wait for the final report. I have suggested to the committee that they should also seek views from our employees and our unions because sometimes communication gap causes misunderstanding. They also agree with that.”

On departmentalism in railways killing big ideas, the minister said, “This is an inherent problem that we need to address together. When we meet in my conference room, which has a round table, I say nobody is against each other and we are on the same side. So, let us work to realize the target. There is no distinction between six different members in the board, 17 zones and 68 divisions. All of them work together to meet the common goal. We are sorting out these issues with open discussions.”

Prabhu said that working with railway unions is a unique experience. He said railway unions are very strong and probably there is not one commercial organization in the world which has as many employees as the Indian Railways. “China’s PLA may have more employees, but that is not a commercial organization so the railways is the largest,” said the minister.

The unions have rejected some recommendations, saying the Debroy report has given a roadmap for privatization of the Indian Railways as a whole, which will neither help passengers nor the country. However, they have welcomed some proposals such as prioritization of projects, reimbursement of subsidy, setting up of training, R&D, IT centres and universities, integration of IT infrastructure and reform of accounting structure.

IR Promotee Officers’ Federation to hold Executive Committee Meeting at Hubli

75 delegates to attend Promotee Railway Officers’ meeting from all over India

हुबली Hubli (UBL): As many as 75 delegates representing various zonal railways and production units of the Indian Railways are expected to participate in the Executive Committee Meeting of the Indian Railway Promotee Officers’ Federation (IRPOF) being held in Hubballi on February 18 and 19.

South Western Railway Promotee Officers’ Association (SWRPOA) is hosting the two-day meeting at the Railway Officers’ Club here.

According to a release, issued by General Secretary of SWRPOA Shaju A. Francis, the General Manager of South Western Railway Pradeep Kumar Saxena will deliver the keynote address at the open session of the meeting on Wednesday at 7.30 p.m.

He has said that the purpose of conducting the meeting was to discuss the parity in Group B Officers’ scales for unorganised categories like Public Relations Officers, Law Officers, Gazetted Head Master/Mistress, Rajbasha Adhikaris, Pharmacy Officers, Nursing Officers, etc.

Rail Unions wants Modi to clarify Stand on Privatization in Parliament

Rajkot (RJT): Coming out strongly against the central government’s approach on privatization of railways, the Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) has demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi give a statement on the issue in the Parliament.

WRMS general secretary J G Mahurkar told that WRMS is opposed to 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in Indian Railways.

“PM Modi had given a statement that government would not privatize railways but we demand that he should give the same statement on the floor of the parliament. We are going hold a mega rally in Mumbai on February 23 wherein lakhs of our members from across the country will participate and will decide the future course of action,” Mahurkar said. He was in the city to participate in inaugural function of WRMS’s new office in Rajkot.

“The action committee of joint consultative machinery has given a strike notice to the government against the implementation of 100 per cent FDI and privatization of railways,” he said. Mahurkar is also vice- president of National Federation of Indian Railwaymen.

He further said that there are other important projects that railways need to take up immediately to provide better services to the people.

“There are only 30 per cent trains that have electrification and rest are run on diesel which costs five times more to public exchequer. Railways have surplus land which can be sold and money can be generated. We will not allow privatization of Railways at all,” he asserted.

There are over 1.15 lakh railway workers associated with WRMS. “If our talks fail with government, then we will take the last resort to stop train services,” he added.

East Coast Railway Engineers Association presents their Demands before 7th CPC

भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneswar (BBSR): A delegation of East Coast Railway Engineers Association (ECoREA) met the members of the seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) at Kolkata recently.

The delegation presented six demands on behalf of the railway engineers. Raising the issue of assured promotional prospects, the ECoREA brought to the notice of CPC that graduate engineers are not getting promoted during their entire service period while other categories of engineers get promoted multiple times including diploma engineers who are getting promoted at least once.

The association complained that after upgrading Group-D staff to Group-C, the Group-C cadre has become the lowest cadre in the Central Government. They said keeping railway engineers in this cadre is a humiliation and they should be upgraded to Group B.

The ECoREA also raised the issue of payment of allowances saying doctors, nurses and train drivers are entitled to several allowances but the railway engineers are not getting the allowance in spite of specialising in their work. They demanded that technical allowances, planning allowances and risk allowances should be paid to the degree engineers.

ECoREA’s Sanjib Kumar said all categories were upgraded by the previous two pay commissions except railway engineers who were, on the contrary, downgraded. After hearing them, CPC Chairman Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur said the commission has already taken into consideration the anomalies faced by the railway engineers. General secretary of ECoREA Bobin Mohanty said the meeting with CPC was fruitful.

SRMU members hold protest against privatisation, FDI in railway sector

तिरुची Tiruchi (TPJ): Railway employees attached to the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) staged demonstrations at various places in Tiruchi Railway Division on Tuesday condemning attempts to privatise railways and bring in foreign direct investment into the sector.

Demonstrations were held inside the Divisional Railway Manager’s office premises and in front of the Armoury Gate at Ponmalai in Tiruchi, and at various places in Ariyalur, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvarur, Villupuram, Vriddhachalam, Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore Lalgudi, Thanjavur, and Kumbakonam.

The protesters demanded implementation of the 7th Pay Commission report with effect from January 1 2014, merger of 100 per cent Dearness Allowance with salary, and immediate disbursement of 25 per cent interim relief.

Scrapping of new pension scheme, disbursement of pension with social security, removal of anomalies in the 6th Pay Commission report, filling vacant posts, and creation of new posts concomitant with the workload were among their other demands.

THANJAVUR: In Thanjavur, SRMU branch secretary Tamilselvan led the demonstration held in front of the railway junction in which zonal secretary Palanivel and branch president Vadivel took part. In Kumbakonam, zonal president Manohar led the demonstration at the Kumbakonam Railway Station.

Railway Unions soften stand on FDI after Prime Minister’s assurance

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s persuasive pitch to railway employees unions has cleared the decks for more FDI inflows and private capital in national transporter that may be reflected in the rail budget.

After Modi’s statement that there would be no privatization of railways, the workers’ unions have softened their stand over several issues including FDI in the transport behemoth. However, the unions are sticking to demands relating to scrapping of new pension scheme (NPS) and DA mergers.

The PM has said that he had a “deep connection” with the railways. “I love railways. My life is what it is because of railways,” Modi said. “The government will not go in the direction of railway privatization … People are spreading rumours about privatization of railways. It is not true,” Modi had said.

The change of heart came after railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s reassurance that FDI or public-private partnership (PPP) will not affect the ownership of railways. During the meeting of general managers last week where union representatives were also present, the minister argued that the government wants to attract private investment in cash-strapped railways and it was not for privatization of railways.

After Modi’s categorical assurance, Prabhu’s persuasive skills worked in convincing the union leaders, said a senior railways official. The union representatives were also satisfied with the minister’s assurance that the railways would not sell any piece of land but instead try to exploit the land commercially.

Shiv Gopal Mishra of All India Railwaymen Federation said, “Our opposition is not politically motivated. We demanded that there should not be privatization of railways and the issue of FDI must be discussed with full transparency.”

At the same time, Mishra warned the minister and railways official that the transporter should not invite FDI or money from national resources which could harm the railways because of overcapitalization or payment of interest on the borrowed capital.

However, the deadlock over the employees’ demands such as scrapping of NPS and DA merger continues.

The unions have been demanding the restoration of old pension scheme as had been done in case of defence because the working conditions in the transporter are risky and large number of employees die on duty. The NPS is without social guarantee. The unions have also hinted at opposing any radical restructuring of the railway board.

The union leaders admitted that there were problems, but blamed politicians at the helm of affairs for the mess.

A leader said ministers did not raise passenger fares for years and announced ‘unviable’ projects which pushed the state-run transporter into bankruptcy.

Railway PSU Unions squeezed by New Policies, Privatisation

सिकंदराबाद Secunderabad (SC): The 20-day strike by lakhs of railway workers in 1974 was an indicator of the strength of trade unions and how essential public services could be disrupted by disgruntled workers, the cogs and wheels of the development juggernaut.

“Trade unions and employee associations, especially in the public sector are aware of the enormity of their power and these have been utilised in rendering fearless critiques of key policy decisions as well, for example the move to privatise insurance sector or the Non-Performing Assets of banks,” says Chandrika, a labour researcher and co-ordinator of the TN labour blog.

“PSU trade unions are given fair opportunities for negotiating or expressing their opinions. They are also as well organised as the organisation they are working in,” points out a senior Railway official.

However, the power and influence of unions has been consistently on the wane due to a multitude of factors. “In the 50s, ministers would hold pre-budget meets with labour unions, but now only industry honchos are called. Casualisation of labour and privatisation in PSUs have weakened the unions. These policies are also implemented to keep the unions in check,” says R Geetha, of the Unorganised Workers Federation.

“Post-liberalisation, when labour unions raise worker issues, even public sector organisations don’t pay heed to implementation of labour laws,” alleges M Subramaniam Pillai, general secretary of the transport wing of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha.

The collective power of workers doesn’t often manifest since most industries have various unions that are tied to different ideologies. “Many of the unions are created by the top management; it becomes easier to handle the workers if they are divided. The collective opinion is dispersed; it’s a simple divide and rule formula,” Pillai says.

With various unions owing allegiance to political parties, the onus is shifted on political battles rather than resolving worker issues, which then works to the management’s advantage, Pillai explains. It also helps that the leadership in certain unions is corrupt and leverages power only to bargain or threaten the management for personal gain, instead of providing recourse for resolution of workers’ problems.

“There are many union leaders who claim to represent humble workers, but they themselves own palatial bungalows or high-end cars,” says the public sector employee.

Union leaders “have become a money machine and have captured the imagination of the workers”, says former Chief Operations Manager of Southern Railways, Abraham Jacob. “Leaders enter when labourers are punished for breaking discipline. They want to scuttle all attempts to discipline the workforce,” he says.

A K Padmanabhan, CPM politburo member, trashes the allegations of intimidation and blackmail by trade unions and terms it a ‘systematic campaign to malign’ the trade unions, a viewpoint which finds resonance with Geetha and Chandrika. “There are black sheep everywhere. Why single out the unions,” Padmanabhan argues.

With white-collar workers testing the union waters, would it lead to a resurgence of the PSU unions? Jacob says capitalism is becoming the dominant political philosophy and there is no need for unions as such.

AIRF bodies meet Railway Minister

गुवाहाटी Guwahati (GWH): The Union government has assured railway unions that all decisions regarding the working of the Indian Railways would be taken only in consultation with them.

This was stated during a meeting which was held earlier this week in New Delhi between the Railway Minister and the railway federations on the issue of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Indian Railways.

In the meeting, the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) was represented by Rakhal Das Gupta, president of the federation and general secretary of NF Railway Mazdoor Union.

“… (The) Honorable Minister of Railways, while welcoming the federations, assured that there would be no privatization of any activity in the Railways. He also mentioned that his system of working had been very transparent and he would try that each and every issue are discussed with the federations with full transparency. He said that the Indian Railways are passing through a economic crisis, and under these circumstances we have to invite private capital. He further said that he wants to assure that private capital would be used for expansion of railway infrastructure, but all the activities, right from production, maintenance and operation, will be dealt by the railway men only,” said a statement issued by the federations.

Das Gupta and leaders of AIRF opposed the FDI in the Railways and said that because of the propaganda, Railway men have been demoralised.

They reminded the Railway Minister about the circular issued by the Ministry of Commerce & Heavy Industry stating that 100 per cent FDI will be allowed in all the three sectors – production, maintenance and operation.

The Minister said that he would have another round of meeting with the federations after going through all the aspects but assured that no harm would be allowed to the existing Railway system.

ECoREA stages Demonstration for abolition of Trade Union Act, 1926

भुवनेश्वर Bhubaneswar (BBS): The East Coast Railway Engineers Association (ECoREA) on Thursday staged a demonstration in front of the zonal headquarter seeking abolition of the Trade Union Act, 1926 stating that it has hindered the growth of degree engineers.

A delegate of ECoREA also submitted a memorandum addressed to the Railway Minister through the General Manager of ECoR. The railway engineers stated that the 1926 Act is responsible for clubbing of degree and diploma engineers with labour unions. The unions never represent them properly which is why the degree engineers have been downgraded and put on a par with other staff, the memorandum claimed.

The engineers also demanded that pay anomalies made in the 6th Pay Commission should be rectified at the earliest.

Take our PF money, not FDI: Railway Unions to government

Take our members’ Rs.10000 Crore PF balance for 10.5% interest and develop the infra, offer railway unions

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: The two major railway unions have proposed to the government an unprecedented alternative to privatisation or inviting foreign investment, to help raise funds and improve revenue.

The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) and the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) had both been demanding an end to the government’s opening of the carrier. Now, they have both offered the Rs 10,000-crore provident fund (PF) deposits of rail workers for development of the cash-short carrier, also the country’s largest single employer.

“We have proposed using the PF balances of the 13.1 lakh workers and 12 lakh retired personnel,” M Raghavaiah, general secretary of NFIR, told. “We can convince the workers on depositing this money with the railways on an interest basis, rather than keeping it in bank accounts.”

NFIR says it represents a little over a million of the 1.3 million workers. And, sees its idea as an attempt to “save the country and Indian Railways from the onslaught of foreign direct investment (FDI) and privatisation in the name of public-private partnership (PPP)”.

Raghavaiah has said in a letter to railways minister Suresh Prabhu, “Serving and retired railway employees can contribute a loan for investment toward development with an interest rate at 10.5 per cent, which would still be one per cent less than the money borrowed from the market.”

The move is part of a bigger plan to help the ministry raise at least Rs 50,000 crore to fund works in track doubling, electrification and signalling, among others. “We have also told the ministry an additional Rs 9,000 crore can be freed for use annually, if it stops paying dividend to the government. No other infrastructure ministry pays a dividend. Why should we?” asked Raghavaiah.

Experts contest this argument, saying no other ministry, apart from railways, is in the business of operations.

The third part of the unions’ fund-raising strategy is to create a source of permanent income by allowing leasing of IR’s mega land bank of 40,000 hectares.

Asked whether the workers’ ideas had cut any ice with the Railway Board chairman (CRB), Arunendra Kumar, the union leader said: “If the prime minister has decided, CRB cannot say anything.”

NFIR is joining the proposed day’s national strike with other central trade unions on December 5.

The Union Cabinet had in August relaxed the FDI norms by permitting 100 per cent investment in projects such as high-speed trains, suburban services, dedicated freight corridors, freight and passenger terminals. The ministry has notified a list of 17 such areas, including rail route electrification, signalling systems and logistics parks. That list is now being expanded to accommodate more projects or areas where FDI can be allowed, minister of state Manoj Sinha had said on Friday.

In addition, the ministry is preparing a list of 50-60 mega projects which can be developed on PPP mode.

This is not the first time the rail unions have surprised with unusual suggestions. In 2011, NFIR and AIRF had demanded the ministry limit the subsidy on certain classes of passengers and raise fares on the rest.

IR’s finances have worsened over the years, in the absence of regular passenger fare increases and maintenance of high freight rates to compensate for losses on passenger fares. And, investments in loss-making projects as part of its social obligation and a huge pay burden.

The railways are budgeting for an operating ratio – the money spent to earn Rs 100 – of a little over 92 per cent this financial year, as compared to last year’s 90 per cent and the 75 per cent in 2007-08.

Unions’ red-flag Government’s move on Railway Board restructure plan

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: Railways unions on Wednesday red-flagged BJP government’s move to restructure the railway board, saying they are determined to oppose any move to ‘break’ the national transporter.

During their first interaction with the Bibek Debroy panel set up by the government to suggest ways for restructuring of railways, the union’s leaders admitted that there were problems, but blamed politicians at the helm of affairs for the mess.

Expressing concern over the government’s move to restructure the Railway Board and separating policy making from operations, a Railwaymen’s body today said the move would lead to “chaos”. “In the name of re-organisation, separating the policy making from operations, may lead to chaos,” National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NIFR) general Secretary M Raghavaiah said.

He said that ministers did not raise passenger fares for years and announced ‘unviable’ projects for decades together which pushed the state-run transporter into bankruptcy.

“If the (Bibek Debroy) panel comes out with radical recommendations aimed at breaking railways, we are determined to oppose it,” said Shiv Gopal Mishra of All-India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), one of the biggest employee unions.

The unions alleged that the problems faced by railways at present are created by political leadership and not by railway-men.

“There is no need to restructure railways. There are few deficiencies which could be rectified in the present system,” said Mishra.

Another union—National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) stated, “While railways is functioning well, the system is put to suffering on account of lopsided and motivated policy decisions of the ruling dispensation.” However, Mishra said that the members of the committee assured us that they are not mandated to break railways but to suggest ways to improve its functioning.

In its representation, AIRF questioned the terms of references of the Debroy panel. The AIRF said the policy making and operation of railways are already separated as operation is handled by the divisional and zonal railway, while policy is framed by the railway board.

Regarding the issue of exchange of officers between the railways and other departments, the union said, “Railways job is highly technical and sophisticated. Short term deputation from other departments is not likely to serve the due purpose.”

NFIR said, “As a responsible organization, the NFIR will be compelled to resist tinkering of Indian railways system in the name of re-organization and structural reforms as we fear that such step would harm not only railways but also the nation as a whole.”

Railway minister Sadananda Gowda had announced in his maiden rail budget formation of an expert committee to suggest restructuring of the railway board.

Konkan Railway tracks unsafe: KRCL Employee union

मडगांव Madgaon (MAO): Konkan railway corporation (KRC) employees union on Wednesday claimed that poor maintenance of the railway tracks is endangering the lives of people travelling on the Konkan railway route.

President of the KRC employees union Subhash Mallagi said that the failure of the KRC in proper maintenance of the railway tracks over the years has led to the tracks not being able to withstand high speeds for which they were designed.

He attempted to substantiate his statement by flashing a letter written by the commissioner of railway safety to KRC suggesting that trains on the Konkan railway route must not exceed 75km per hour due to poor maintenance of the tracks.

NFRMU submits memorandum to NFR General Manager

बोंगईगांव Bongaigaon (BNGN): The North East Frontier Railway Mazdoor Union (NFRMU), Bongaigaon , New Bongaigaon and workshop branches jointly submitted a memorandum to RS Virdi, General Manager of NF Railway on Wednesday in support of their demands.

Their demands include more fund allocation for staff amenities, construction of main road from Dangtol to Bongaigaon, disposal of garbage from railway colonies of Bongaigaon and New Bongaigaon complex, stopping outsourcing of sanitation of Bongaigaon station, improvement of railway quarters, drains, roads of railway colonies, providing adequate medical facilities in New Bongaigaon Railway Hospital, provision of ramp–type foot overbridge in New Bongaigaon Railway station.

The three branches of NFRMU visited the General Manager of NFR in New Bongaigaon Railway station during his official visit to New Bongaigaon.  Several leaders of the organization including Asish Biswas, joint general secretary of NFRMU, Tonmoy Raha and Phanidhar Das, both assistant general secretaries of NFRMU, SS Mochahary and Dipen Bora, secretary and president respectively of Bongaigaon branch, MR Nayak, secretary of New Bongaigaon branch, Pabitra Barman, secretary of Workshop branch, met the General Manager.

Unions wary of Chinese participation in Railways modernisation and Bullet Train projects

चेन्नाई Chennai (MAS): Last month, India and China signed MoUs and exchanged documents on strengthening Indian Railways and last week, Union railway minister Sadananda Gowda confirmed, during his visit to Chennai, that railways was in track with China on technology development and this had created a trigger among various railway trade unions in south India.

Railway unions associated with the southern states insist that Indian Railways avoid China for investment and technology and warned that Chinese intrusion into the railways will have adverse effects. “If required, the railways should go for other global expertise,” said Mr M. Raghaviah, general secretary, Nation Federation for Indian Railwaymen. Southern Railway Mazdoor Union and Southern Railway Employees Sangh that have a significance presence in TN, Andhra and Kerala, also express similar views.

There are rail traffic bottlenecks in all metros and this needs immediate attention to increase speed and punctuality. There is no need to spend Rs.66000 crore on every high speed corridor proposed between Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai, along with three other corridors in the country, Mr Ragaviah said, warning that FDI will only lead to an economic crisis. “We will be compelled to go on strike, affecting rail services, if the idea of FDI is mooted in the railways,” he added.

“There is need for technology transfer, but not investments from China or other countries. We benefited from importing German technology while developing AC coaches for Indian Railways,” said SRMU general secretary C.A.Raja Sridhar, who is also vice-president, (Asia Pacific) International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) headquartered in London.

For the Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, the estimated cost is Rs.66000 crore and during execution, the project cost will be around Rs.90000 crore. Rather than going in for China’s high-speed train, Japan’s bullet train is economical and the safest, meeting all international safety parameters, he said, war ning that foreign investments will convert railways from service industry into a corporate house, affecting the common man.

“Rail commuters look for quality service and punctuality and this can be attained only by filling up the existing vacancies and resolving the bottlenecks. Technology can improve, but preference should be more on improving the human resource indices of railway staff,” said loco pilot Gopala Krishnan of the Southern Railway Employees Sangh.

Loco Pilots demand implementation of Railway Board directives on Signal Passing at Danger

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS): More than 200 loco pilots affiliated to the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) staged a protest near Southern Railway headquarters demanding the railways implement safety regulations and guidelines to prevent accidents caused by human error.

The loco pilots demanded implementation of railway board directives on Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD) and recommendations of high level safety review committee and classification for loco pilots as intensive category of duty as ordered by ministry of railways.

“These recommendations were issued by the ministry and high power committees so that working condition of loco pilots and safety of passengers could be improved. But the zone has neither rejected them nor implemented them. Loco pilots have to do six consecutive night duties. This increases the risk of human error while running trains,” said K Parthasarathy, joint zonal secretary, south zone, AILRSA.

Loco pilots have been demanding the authorities reduce the number of consecutive night duties from six to two. Their other demands include calendar day rest, increased rest, two hours calling time, resuming duty after leave at 8am and others.

Non filling up of vacancies is resulting in denial of leave, increased overtime and inadequate rest. Leave reserve post and trainee reserve post were not earmarked in the annual cadre review, they said.

Committee to identify Railway projects for FDI

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  In a move signalling fast-tracking of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the Railways has constituted a committee to “identify potential areas/projects” that need investment.

The committee consists of executive directors of traffic, civil/ infra, finance, mechanical engineering, signalling and electrical engineering departments, for which the railways is likely to get investments. It would be headquartered in New Delhi.

The cabinet allowed 100 per cent FDI in infrastructure projects and has been desperately eyeing investments in bullet trains and high-speed freight corridors. It has signed MoUs with China and Japan for such investments.

The committee will interact with industries and potential investors to explore areas that interest them.

“The committee should interact with industry/Chamber of Commerce and potential investors, if required,” the order from Railway Board said.

“The Public Private Partnership model adopted earlier has not been encouraging as foreign investments were not allowed,” a high level railway official said.

The ministry finds resistance to 100 per cent FDI from All India Railwaymen’s Federation which says the government has allowed investments in all sectors and their decision is “unilateral”.

FDI & PPP in Railways: Union-Railway Ministry tussle set to intensify

The next few months are going to be eventful for railways. The govt is determined to bring in greater private participation in this public utility, but two of its biggest unions are opposing the move tooth and nail, embarking on a collision course.

Friday will see the first of the big all-India agitations against introducing foreign direct investment (FDI) and public-private partnership (PPP). The agitation is being spearheaded by the communist-backed All-India Railwaymen’s Federation, an umbrella group of 1.1 million railway employees.

AIRF along with Congress-backed National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) are two of the biggest unions in the system, and both have made their intentions clear. They are not going to make it easy for the govt to ‘privatise’ railways.

As reported earlier, NFIR had torn into Modi govt’s policies on railways at a seminar on world transport unions held in Sophia (Bulgaria) in mid-August.

JR Bhosale, national treasurer, AIRF, said “We have had a meeting with Railway Board on Sept 8, and we will be meeting railway minister Sadananda Gowda next week. We believe the introduction of FDI and PPP will make Indian Railways sick. That is because, we believe FDI and PP would do nothing for railways’ core sectors that actually require rejuvenation.”

Union’s point of view: No FDI, plain common sense

According to Bhosale, the problem is that railways has not been getting adequate returns on several projects since 1952. “Look at out track system! Of the 63,000km of tracks, only 16% are saturated. We should be doubling these lines because the amount of time and fuel wasted due to congestion runs into several thousand crore. Instead, what we have been doing is constructing lines in areas, mostly rural, where there is hardly any returns,” said Bhosale.

Picking on the slow pace of electrification, Bhosle said that it was this aspect that should be given priority. “Look at the kind of money we are losing because of the diesel trains we operate. Money should be spend on electrification; tariff for power supply to the railways should be looked into so that we start saving money,” said Bhosale.

Railway ministry’s view: Numbers are all off-track

Railways minister V Sadananda Gowda, in his July 8 railway budget speech, highlighted one of the most depressing assessment of railway accounts in recent times. Railways, Gowda told Parliament, earned Rs 1,39, 558 crore, of which it spent Rs 1,30,321 crore as working expenses in 2013-14 fiscal.

On money required for big-ticket projects, Gowda said some ambitious dreams like the Diamond Quadrilateral Network—to connect metros with high-speed trains—and the 350kmph bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would require the kind of money railways just cannot imagine. The Quadrilateral network would require Rs 9 lakh crore and the bullet train Rs 60,000 crore at the current estimate. Add to that another Rs 5 lakh crore over the next 10 years to complete the ongoing projects.

The bleeding is compounded by the low fares in place. The loss per km per passenger has increased from 10 paise in 2000-01 to 23 paise in 2012-13.

In a system where safety isn’t anything to write home about, railways will be needing Rs 40,000 crore for track renewals, elimination of unmanned level crossings and building road-overbridges/road-underbridges.

Expert view by S.Ananthanarayanan, former FA&CAO, Indian Railways

I believe FDI or PPP is not required. Shortage of funds is not the limiting factor in capital works. It’s not that railways is short of money. We are unable to spend the total money allotted for various projects because of lack of contractors, equipment, materials, etc. And PPP has hardly been used in the railways and would not be an option for building developmental lines. Private investors will come in only where there is profit. The problem is railways has spread its resources very thin (on a large number of projects, most of which have been delayed). Important safety works have been delayed because of the time taken for getting permission, shortage of essentials like sleepers, materials and agencies that can construct these projects.

Southern Railway officials to hold discussions with SRMU leaders

चेन्नई Chennai (MAS):  Southern Railway will hold discussions with Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) on Thursday and Friday to sort out employee problems and other work-related issues.

This is part of the Permanent Negotiating Machinery meetings which discuss industrial relations.

Southern Railway General Manager Rajesh Misra and other senior railway officers heading different departments will hold talks with SRMU leaders, including its General Secretary N Kanniah.

SRMU is the sole recognized union in Southern Railway.

In a statement, Kanniah said the union would raise issues pertaining to employees at the meeting and a solution would be found.

Southern Railway is suffering from shortage of staff, inefficient contractors and lack of spares to maintain trains, stations and railway yards. This is putting a lot of pressure on the employees.

Meanwhile, officials are also struggling with an undisciplined workforce.

Mazdoor Union protests alleging Railways ‘anti-labour policy’

विजयवाड़ा Vijayawada (BZA): The South Central Railway Mazdoor Union (SCRMU) held a meeting at the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM)’s office on Monday, protesting the government’s anti-labour policies and appealed to DRM Pradeep Kumar to convey the higher-ups about the consequences of privatising the railway ticket booking system and outsourcing of departmental activities and other policies.

In a memorandum submitted to the DRM, SCRMU leaders stated that privatisation of the ticket booking system would ultimately lead to surrender of the entire commercial clerk posts. .

The Railway administration was converting regular employees system into the contract one, instead of providing new posts when assets were created.

Protests in Secunderabad too, on privatisation move of ticketing services

Railway employees attached to the South Central Railway Mazdoor Union (Secunderabad division) organised a ‘Maha Dharna’ in Tirupati as well as at Renigunta junction on Monday, protesting against the outsourcing and privatization of sale of reserved and unreserved tickets.

The employees called it unfortunate for the Government to outsource sale of tickets in the garb of ‘Public Private Partnership’, by establishing ‘Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra’. Passenger’s details like name, age and sex cannot be modified for the tickets purchased in these counters, nor could they be cancelled.

Moment of realisation for a railway official – an SCR official during his journey finds the woes of passengers of fully-packed Janmabhoomi as well as the staff on duty. He found that heavy rush was obstructing the movement of railway employees on duty like ticket checking staff and AC mechanics and even vendors

An SCR official during his journey finds the woes of passengers of fully-packed Janmabhoomi as well as the staff on duty

A senior official of South Central Railway, who travelled by the Secunderabad–Visakhapatnam Janmabhoomi Express last week, was caught unawares when he found not only the II sitting but also AC chair cars were overcrowded, with passengers standing in the aisle.

The official was learnt to be travelling as part of a survey to study the feasibility of running a double decker AC express on the Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Janmabhoomi Express withdrawing the rake from the Guntur-Tirupathi double-decker AC express, which failed to draw passengers.

He found that heavy rush was obstructing the movement of railway employees on duty like ticket checking staff and AC mechanics and even vendors.

Some picked up arguments with the employees for the poor service and lack of air-conditioning.

When an employee tried to convince him saying that AC would not function properly when the coach was overcrowded, the passenger did not give up his aggressive attitude and even argued with a civil policeman in uniform, for trying to come to the rescue of the employee.

When a TTE wanted to check the ticket, another passenger reminded him of a recent incident of a TTE being pushed out of a train.

These incidents are forcing the employees to refrain from antagonising the passengers.

The senior official also found the few vendors, who could make their way through the crowd, were selling tea/coffee in 75 ml cups instead of the standard 150 ml, charging Rs.30 for a little quantity of curd rice and Rs.10 for 30 gm of peanut, packed in thick polythene sachets.

To add to the woes of Janmabhoomi passengers, a bunch of trans-genders boarded the train. Their behaviour was highly rude, filthy, ill-mannered forcing women commuters close their eyes not able to see their vulgar behaviour.  Last but not the least, the train was even being given very little priority and was generally running two hours late.

Will conduct ‘Joint Meeting’ of all Unions for ‘Sectoral Policy on FDI’ in Railways: Gowda

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: A day after the union cabinet’s decision permitting 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the sector, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said that “model agreements” and a “sectoral policy” on the engagement with the private and foreign players would shortly be unveiled.

“Foreign players will bring in funds and new technology, which will fast-track big-ticket projects.  Our motto is to strengthen the Railways infrastructure to boost our economy, particularly in the stages of rapid transformations – both technologically and economy-wise, however safeguarding the Railways with utmost care and concern as well. There is no possibility of it being rolled back,” he said.

The decision — which permits railways public sector undertakings to off-load shares to foreign firms — has raised the hackles of rail unions. “A joint meeting of all unions is being scheduled for the month-end to formulate a response in the matter,” said Shiva Gopal Mishra of the All India Railway Men Federation, which claims to represent 11 lakh of the total of approximately 14 lakh employees of the public transporter.

The railway minister reiterated that rail operations and passenger safety had been kept out of the FDI ambit, but the new policy does permit foreign investments in a host of related activities including suburban corridor projects, high speed trains, dedicated freight lines, rolling stock including train sets and locomotives/coaches/wagons, electrification and signalling systems, freight and passenger terminals and infrastructure in industrial parks.

Convening an investor’s meet and organising road shows to attract foreign investments are among plans being worked out, an official said.

RPF Association call to cancel RPF Order on recruitment

गुवाहाटी Guwahati: The All India RPF Association, Northeast Frontier Railway has called upon the government to cancel standing order no 85 of DG/RPF in the interests of the youths of the North East.

The association also submitted a memorandum to Central Minister Kiren Rijiju pointing out that the standing order no 85 of DG/RPF has deprived many youths of the region from making it to the posts of RPF constables and sub inspectors.

It needs to be mentioned here that provisions of the RPF Rules, 1987 prescribes minimum 165 cm height for the eligibility of a youth to be selected as a constable or sub-inspector of RPF. But the standing order no 85 of DG/RPF contrary to the RPF Rules 1987 provides for bonus marks to male and female candidates having 178 cm height and 165 cm height respectively.

“For this reason, the candidates of North East cannot compete with their counterparts from the rest of the country,” said the association alleging that youths of the region have been arbitrarily denied employment in RPF.

Calling for immediate steps to remove this discrimination against the North East, the association alleged that one Kolkata-based private firm which has been given the contract for collecting and scrutinizing recruitment forms for this year has rejected almost 25,000 forms from the region on one pretext or the other out of the 32,000 applicant.

Flash strike at Madurai by Loco pilots affiliated to SRMU

मदुरै Madurai Jn (MDU): The Rameswaram-Tiruchi passenger train was detained in the originating station for over an hour following a flash strike by loco-pilots affiliated to Southern Railway Mazdoor Union on Wednesday.

The pilots went on strike demanding the railway administration to ensure stipulated working hours, well-maintained running room and quality food for them. The Railway Board had ordered that the running crew should return to headquarters within 36 hours after they joined duty, union’s assistant divisional secretary, V. Ramkumar said. However, it was not followed in Madurai division.

He demanded that accommodation at the running room for loco pilots be provided with facilities available in three-star hotels and the quality of food should be on a par with that given to passengers of two-tier AC coaches of Rajdhani Express.

The strike was withdrawn after the intervention of Divisional Railway Manager A.K.Rastogi, who promised to discuss the issue with the union, he said.

Two-day meet of NCRPOA concludes

इल्लाहाबाद Allahabad (ALD): The newly elected body of executive members of North Central Railway Promotee Officers’ Association (NCRPOA) was welcomed on the last day of the two-day annual general meeting of the association. The meeting was organised at the DSA grounds.

General secretary of he association welcomed the executive members and also assigned them responsibilities. Treasurer BK Srivastava presented the annual financial report and gave detailed information about the Benevolent Fund Scheme. During the meet, two committees were formed regarding Right to Information. While one committee will collect information, the second comprising of senior officers will analyze the gathered information. President of the association SS Singh proposed vote of thanks.

AILSRA demands shifting Safety Departments under the direct control of CRS

मांगलूर Mangalore (MAQ): The All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), South Western Railway (SWR), urged the Prime Minister and the Minister for Railways to accord top priority to safety in Railways besides taking steps to reduce the expenditure and increase productivity.

Over the years, the numbers of railway zones and divisions have increased from nine and 52 to 17 and 64 respectively, without there being much increase in productivity. The number of officers too, has increased from 8,000 in 1998 to 17,000 in 2012 whereas the route network has increased just by 11,000 km between 1947 and 2014, said Association’s zonal General Secretary C. Sunish.

Submitting a memorandum, Mr. Sunish noted that Narendra Modi had invited suggestions from general managers of Railway zones and divisional railway managers about improving the performance. However, people on the ground like loco pilots could effectively highlight actual issues and problems and hence the memorandum, he said.

Eliminate Zones

Mr.Sunish said the English had introduced the railway zone system to decentralise administration in the absence of sophisticated communication systems. Zones receive budgetary allocation and distribute among divisions.

The Chinese Railway has recently scrapped zones. Indian Railways too could do away zones and allocate funds to divisions and the Railway Board could monitor functioning.

If at all zones could not be eliminated, existing zones should be thoroughly reorganised by equitable distribution of divisions and merging zones functioning in close geographical proximity, he said.

Safety

Mr. Sunish said safety departments, under divisions/ zones, are unable to enforce safety norms independently, and urged the Ministry to bring them directly under Commissioners of Railway Safety.

He alleged that the bureaucracy is only concerned about economy while the government alone can ensure safety because of its social obligation. Inquiries after mishaps hold only Group C and D employees responsible absolving the higher ups, who actually take decisions concerning safety, he pointed out.

Though human failure is said to be responsible for two thirds of accidents, the Railways has not done away with 13-hour minimum duty and six continuous night duties for loco pilots.

The Association strongly urged the Ministry to implement reports of Anil Kakodkar and Justice Khan committees, he said. Motorman should be posted at both the ends cabs of suburban electrical multiple unit (EMU) trains to avoid delay in turnout times as well as to offer rest to the motorman not on duty.

The Railways could increase revenue by properly pricing the season tickets, checking ticketless travel, he added.

Loco Pilots’ suggestions for Railway Budget

  • Bring safety department under the direct control of commissioners of railway safety of respective zones
  • Reduce unreasonable workload on loco pilots; provide ergonomically designed comfortable loco cabins
  • Reduce expenditure—number of officers increased from 8,000 in 1998 to 17,000 in 2012; zones and divisions from 9 and 52 to 17 and 64 without corresponding increase in productivity
  • Complete overhauling of tracks, signalling and other infrastructure to increase train speed.

50 Central Railway RPF personnel fell in CBI net in last 7 years

मुंबई Mumbai:  This is a statistic the Railway Protection Force (RPF) of Central Railway (CR) will not be proud of. A reply to an RTI query has revealed that in the last seven years at least 50 jawans and officers of this elite force have been caught in the net of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) department of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The RTI query filed by human rights activist Samir Jhaveri has also found that many of them were either suspended, dismissed or have been compulsorily retired.

According to the reply furnished by Udai Shukla, additional chief security commissioner, these jawans and officials were found adopting illegal practices such as demanding illegal gratification, bribe, protecting illegal hawkers or extorting money from passengers. A detailed list given under the RTI reply said that of these 50 offenders, chargesheet were filed against 11 accused, while cases against 11 accused were pending in CBI special court. Sanction has been given to prosecute 17 accused, while four have been acquitted and three convicted.

Most of the 28 jawans and officers were trapped when B. S. Sidhu was the chief security commissioner (CSC) of CR.

Mr Jhaveri, who unearthed the fake bail bond racket at Kurla railway station, and the extortion racket at LTT, is the man responsible for trapping 27 jawans and officials. “I wanted to check the status of the CBI corruption cases,” he said, adding. “I hope this force will adopt ethical practices and regain its glory back.”

No more Politics with Rail Fare Hike: Railway Unions warn Opposition Parties

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: The Railway employees unions, representing over 13 lakh workers, have supported the recent hike in passenger fare and freight.

“Do not play politics with railway fare hike,” said Shiva Gopal Mishra of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation. “The Railway is the lifeline of our country. If people want trains to run, then they should be willing to pay higher fares,” Mishra said. Marri Raghavaiah, General-Secretary of National Federation of Indian Railwaymen, said, “We support the fare hike proposed and kept on hold by Mallikarjun Kharge and implemented by the new Government. This is need of the hour to improve the condition of railways.”

It is welcome, indeed, that the new government has begun to take hard decisions. Railway fares and freight rates have to go up, to allow the Railways to invest in laying more and better tracks and to start new trains to end the endless shortage of passenger carrying capacity that crush would-be travellers.

Modernising signalling and running freight trains to a time schedule, while integrating cargo movement with road transport so as to cater to the needs of people who have to move goods some distance off the closest railway station — this is the basic challenge in reducing oil imports for the economy. It takes less energy to move goods by rail than by road. But the gross inefficiency of the Railways in moving anything but bulk goods has seen it steadily lose out to road transport.

The Rail budget must seek to reverse the trend. Raising fares to gradually eliminate cross-subsidisation by freight and to raise freight costs to reflect actual cost, both while improving systemic efficiency — this is the Railways’ challenge. The signs are that the government has the guts to take it on. It has been just two months since the Ministry of Railways has come under the control of a national party and in both years, rail tariffs have gone up sharply.  This augurs well for the Railways and for the economy at large. For far too long has the ministry been run by some regional party or the other, keener on using its vast network to serve parochial interests rather than on fortifying the Railways’ own health or using the rail network to reduce the energy intensity of transport in India, they argued.

Structural reform of the Railways could take several forms, of which converting the behemoth into a number of competing companies is just one. The point is to take up one cogent reform proposal and implement it thoroughly. A short-term goal should be to design and execute rail connectivity to large coal deposits that await rail linkage to commence mining, they said.

AIRF opposes FDI move in Railways

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi:  While the railways is keen to go ahead with allowing FDI, its largest union — All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) — has warned that it would oppose the move in the existing infrastructure “with all might”. Barring high-speed rail corridor, the union has said that it would oppose all other forms of foreign investment in railways.

“We will oppose any move to privatise any function of the railways or FDI in the existing infrastructure with all might. There are people who are hell-bent to destroy the railways, which essentially is for the poor,” Mr Shiv Gopal Mishra, secretary-general of the AIRF, told.

Union railways minister Sadananda Gowda on Thursday maintained that his ministry has begun talks with the CommerceMministry on the shape of FDI in the national carrier. However, Mr Mishra said that it should be the government which should fund the rail works. “With budgetary support of about Rs,30,000 crores a year, the government thinks that the railways will take up Rs.5 lakhs worth of the pending projects. There is a total disconnect in the policies and the railways should first cancel all the pending projects and prioritise what could be done within the available resources,” said Mr Mishra.

NHRC directs Rlys to look into Loco Pilots’ complaint of no food or toilet breaks during duty

नयी दिल्ली New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the railways to look into the plight of locomotive drivers who had complained to the panel about denial of time for food and refreshment during their long hours of duty and non-existence of toilet facilities in the engines.

In the complaint to NHRC, the loco drivers had claimed they had to go without food and toilet breaks during their gruelling 12-hour shifts, mostly in night.

Acting on the complaint, the human rights watchdog directed the railway board chairman to set up a committee of all stakeholders including technical and other experts to consider the grievances and report within two months.

“The Committee should be directed to give hearing to the representatives of the complainants (loco drivers) and find out adequate solution of the problems,” the NHRC said.

In its petition, Indian Railway Loco Running Men’s Organization (IRLRO) urged the panel to protect train drivers’ right to take food or take toilet breaks during the mandated 12 working hours, arguing that there was no provision for these in the Railways Act.

The organization said there is no toilet facility in the engines and train drivers are not allowed any time to attend the nature’s call while on duty.

“Indian Railway Loco Pilots are the only category of workers who are denied break to take food and answer the nature’s call,” said SK Pandhi, working president, IRLRO.

Arguing that loco pilots come under “continuous category” of employees and they get additional pay and allowances for the same, the railways said, “They (drivers) can have refreshments and avail of toilet facilities during halts at stations. On board, toilet facilities are not provided to the crew in view of the exigency of their services.”

The transporter also pointed out that it was not feasible to authorize the running staff to halt the running train for taking food, refreshments and answer the nature’s call which may lead to unnecessary delay and adversely affect the operation of other trains.

The union said, “The duty hours of loco running staff are 12 hours. The crew is left with no option but to control hunger and any need to use toilet till the end of duty hours.”

The union also claimed there are other grey areas in the working conditions. For instance, there is no provision for weekly or periodical off, no break during duty hours and no cut-off time for night duty for drivers.

SRMU protest against Railway Board’s order

MA29_SRMU_DEMO_1871726fमधुरै Madurai (MDU): Members of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union’s (SRMU) Ticket Checking Council, Madurai Division, staged a demonstration at the railway station here on Wednesday in protest against Railway Board’s order directing Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTE) to man additional coaches.

During the demonstration, the TTEs urged the Railway Board to fill the vacancies immediately and not to overburden them with additional work.

“In accordance with an order of the Board, issued in 2000, we looked after two to three coaches on trains that start before 9 p.m. But the Board issued another order on March 14, 2014, asking us to look after five upper class coaches or three sleeper coaches,” said C.D. Nagarajan, chairman of Ticket Checking Council.

“This is mainly because they have not filled the retirement vacancies. It is an impossible task for a TTE to man over five coaches. We will have to check identity cards of the passengers, take care of their amenities and address their complaints,” he added.

Public to be affected
According to the TTEs, the changed rule will affect the public most. “While manning five coaches, we need a lot of time to complete checking. Sometimes, on the trains that leave a station after 9 p.m., the passengers would have crossed half the distance or will be in deep sleep by the time we reach them, and we will have no option but to disturb them,” Mr. Nagarajan noted.

He presided over the demonstration in the presence of J.M. Rafiq, Madurai district secretary of the SRMU, and B. Saravanan, president of Dindigul district Ticket Checking Council.

Loco Pilots demand better working hours to ensure safety of train passengers

Chennai (MAS): Loco pilots who drive long distance express trains have warned that railways could be compromising on safety of passengers.

In spite of repeated reminders, Southern Railway has not taken steps to lessen the burden of loco pilots who are overworked and stressed out, said representatives of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA).

More than 100 loco pilots staged a protest in front of Chennai Central railway station on Thursday demanding the zonal railway administration implement instructions from the railway board to streamline duty time of loco pilots.

The association has been seeking a slew of measures to reduce stress of drivers to prevent accidents.

“Loco pilots are made to work for more than 13hours and night duties are assigned to them continuously for six days. This should stop. Maximum duty hours should be limited to six hours for all loco pilots and night duties should not be assigned continuously. Driving an express train is a job that needs high level of concentration. Stress will lead to human error and can cause accidents,” said a representative of the association.

The association said, “Railway board has issued various directives like reduction of duty hours, avoiding continuous night duties, two hours calling time and other measures that would reduce stress but the zonal administration was not following the instructions.”

The zone does not have required crew strength and non-filling up of vacancies leads to denial of leave which adds to the stress.

IRPA wants Railways implement CAT Orders

Chennai:  Even as the Indian Railway Pharmacists Association (IRPA) has won a case and got an order from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Bangalore directing the Railway Board to maintain uniformity in assigning duties to pharmacists in the railway hospital pharmacies, the authorities have not yet implemented the order of the Tribunal, alleged Y Govardhan, President, IRPA (South Zone).  The Tribunal issued the order in August 2013.

IRPA wants the work hours of the railway pharmacists should be restricted in OPD hours and fixed at par with those of lab technicians, radiographers and physiotherapists.

Govardhan said except the south west division of the southern zone of Indian railways, all other divisions are assigning pharmacists for general duties only, which start from 8 am and continue upto 6 pm, with two hours lunch break. He said there is no post sanctioned for round the clock duty as per the Yardsticks for Manpower Planning (YMP) for medical department of Indian railways, but the pharmacists are forced to work in night shift also.

Govardhan, who is working as the chief pharmacist in the Mysore division, says the shift duty system is now existing in the southern, south western and south central divisions of the southern zone.

According to him, the south zone branch of the Railway Pharmacists Association filed a case with the CAT in Bangalore and won a verdict in their favour, which directed the Railway Board to remove shift duty and implement general duty in the hospital pharmacies under the zone, as what is going on in the rest of the railway zones. He said the Tribunal wanted the Railways to adjust a work methodology for pharmacists, otherwise to follow the methods followed in other divisions without any kind of distinction or discrimination.

While speaking to Pharmabiz, he said though the Tribunal issued an order against assigning night duties for pharmacists, the concerned authorities are unwilling to implement it.

Regarding the yardsticks of manpower, he said the existing yardstick was formulated in 1986, which says one post of pharmacist is required to dispense medicines to 100 out-patients. Additional pharmacists are required for additional every 100 patients or part thereof, over and above the first 100 patients.  When the Rule was introduced in 1986, the prescription to each patient was only four or five tablets. Now several new drugs have come, the number of patients and their diseases are many, with that the prescriptions have risen to 15 to 18 drugs for one patient depending up on the disease. He further said, though the number of patients visiting the OPD has increased, there is no parallel multiplication in the manpower of pharmacists. The situation has obviously augmented the workload of the dispensers.

Demanding that the shift duty should immediately be abandoned, he said the present system of assigning night duties is a kind of extraction of work from the pharmacists, and that too without giving additional payment or any other benefits. To a question he said, there is no need of shift duty for pharmacists in railway hospitals. The general duty time is 8 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm. Currently, they are assigned to work for a turn of eight hours duty for round the clock, Govardhan said.

There are 15 hospitals under the southern zone of Indian Railways and 23 health units. A total of 365 pharmacists are working in all these health centres.

The CAT also wanted the railway authorities to consider the seniority of pharmacists with the method followed in other divisions. In Mysore division, Govardhan said, the seniority is considered in the divisional level only, but it should be considered in the national level.

N.F.Rly Employees’ Union oppose merger of stores units – stage protest at Banarhat

Banarhat (BNQ):  Opposing the proposal of merging the two stores of the SSE/P-Way in NFR Alipurduar division, the INTUC-backed NF Railway Employees’ Union today staged a demonstration outside the Banarhat SSE/P-Way office. Union members also submitted a memorandum to the Principal Chief Engineer, Malegaon via the senior section engineer of Banarhat railway opposing the move to shift the Banarhat store to Hasimara. The union’s Malbazar branch secretary Sanjay Ray, Dilip Kumar Sil from Hasimara branch and Umesh Kaman from Banarhat branch were among those who submitted the memorandum.

Union central committee secretary Sujit Kumar Mishra said the railway administration has issued an order to merge the stores of two units, but the move will affect efficiency of work. He said if the stores are merged, things will become tedious and time consuming as materials will be required to be brought from one unit to another.

“We want the railways to operate smoothly.  Each unit must have its own store so that track maintenance and other emergency works can be completed in time,” Mishra noted.

Dilip Kumar Sil seconded Mishra and said the administration’s decision will negatively affect railway security while impeding the work process.

“It may also lead to a cut in workforce. We want the stores to be kept intact with the stations,” he added.

Railways Public Relations Officers’ threaten Dharna on Promotion Norms

Jaipur (JP):  The Indian Railway Public Relations Officials Welfare Society today announced that its members would sit on an indefinite dharna outside the office of the General Manager North Western Railway from Friday.

The society alleged that the Railways had been ignoring their long-pending demand of promotions as per rules.

Promotional avenues for public relations officers were clearly laid down in a gazette notification in 1982, but these “have not been implemented so far due to which we are suffering a lot”, society general secretary Yashwant Kumar told reporters here today.

“We have been raising our demands and submitted several representations to the government in the past 20 years, but the grievances remained unsolved,” he said.

He said representatives from different regions would participate in the dharna.

“Due to the anomaly in promotions, senior PROs have to work under officers junior to them. This is unjustified and the railway board should pay attention to our demand,” Kumar said.

Congress backed NFIR approach Rahul Gandhi to get pending demands resolved

New Delhi:  Less than 24 hours before the Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge presents the interim-Budget, Congress-backed Railway Union has asked Congress Vice- President Rahul Gandhi to “suitably communicate” to the Railway Minster several of Railway employees pending demands.

Kharge, who has held the portfolio for seven months, will be the second Minister from Congress to present the Budget, though interim, in the 10-year UPA regime on Wednesday.

National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) said that demands of 36,000 licensed porters working at various stations on Indian Railways should be given health benefits.

NFIR further sought benefits for about three lakh railway staff who maintain tracks. This being an election year, there were huge demands for announcing new railway projects such as new lines, new trains, or factories.

Board approves demand for Exclusion of the Rly Employees from New Pension Scheme

Ministry of Railways approach Finance Ministry to seek Exemption from New Pension System

At a time when Railway employees have been preparing for a national-level strike seeking exemption from the New Pension System (NPS) among many others, the Railway Board on Friday approved one of their demand for exemption of Railway Employees from the new Paension Scheme and decided to approach the Finance Ministry for exclusion of the employees from the scheme. The NPS, which was introduced by the UPA Government, has met with stiff opposition from several employee organisations, especially the railways which constitutes the largest labour force in the country.

Several doubts still remain on the practicality of the scheme and employees in the various Central Government sectors have been seeking a clear picture for quite some time now. The demand is to retain the guaranteed pension scheme.

The All-India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), the largest trade union in the Indian railways, has been pressing for the demand for a long time. Several agitations were held in front of Parliament over the past several months.  C A Rajasridhar, president of the Southern Railways Mazdoor Union (SRMU), affiliated to the AIRF, said the Railway Board Chairman has decided to put forward the recommendation to exclude railway employees from the NPS before the Finance Ministry.  “A letter in this regard will be sent through the Railway Minister, which will then be forwarded to the Finance Ministry. After this, a Cabinet decision has to be taken in this regard. It is too early to say what the chances are of the railway employees being exempted from the national-level scheme,” he said. The NPS is meant for those employees who have been recruited to the railway board since 2004.

An employee contributes 10 per cent to the pension regulatory fund along with 10 per cent from the employing agency.  It is a contributory pension model and depends purely on the share market. This has raised apprehensions as fluctuations in the share market could put employees in a jeopardy. “The railways has always been an autonomous body which is finding funding through different means without the aid of the Central Government. So in this regard, railway employees can be exempted from the NPS of the Union Government and the railway board can take a decision regarding the pension of its employees. If the railwaymen are excused from this, this will create a huge upheaval as other sector employees will also come to the forefront. The defence sector has already been exempted from the scheme,” SRMU leader P Unnikrishnan said. Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar was not available for comments.

Railways agrees to NFIR’s demands

New Delhi: The Indian Railway has agreed to several demands of the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) including the scrapping of the new pension scheme among others.

The NFIR along with the Chairman – Railway Board and Member Staff held a meeting on Friday and presented their charter of Demands. The railways had taken a strike ballot on January 17 and 18 where 97.03% employees voted in favour of general strike. The meeting was attended by NFIR general secretary M Raghavaiah, NFIR president Gumansingh and NFIR working president R P Bhatnagar. NFIR vice-president J G Mahurkar said that NFIR had opposed the decision of new pension scheme imposed from January 1, 2014. A special communication was being sent to ministry of finance with the approval of railway minister recommending scrapping of the new pension scheme.

Also, it was decided that the railway board will go in for up-gradation of track maintainers. The board has also agreed granting appointment to wards of a railwaymen under the LARSGESS Scheme by relaxing norms.

Mahurkar said that the railway board has also agreed to grant appointment under the LARSGESS Scheme to employees. Also, it decided for up-gradation of 3,335 apex level group ‘C’ post to group ‘B’ gazetted. The railway board has agreed to consider absorption of quasi administrative staff and to find the solution. The railway board has agreed to discuss the anomalies of modified assured career progression, said Mahurkar.

Railway Unions to Launch Nationwide Strike in March

New Delhi: The UPA government could be staring at another crisis with two leading railways unions set to go on an indefinite nationwide strike in March after a majority of employees affiliated with them voted in favour of stopping work to push long-pending demands, such as scrapping new-pension scheme, end to hiring of contractual labour and outsourcing of jobs.

If the two unions indeed go ahead with the plan, it will be the first major strike in railways after the one in 1974 led by George Fernandes. That strike was crushed by the Indira Gandhi government, leading to widespread victimization and thousands losing their jobs.

One of the two unions – All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) – has called a meeting of its general council on February 17 while the other – National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) – will meeting on February 12 to decide on going on strike if the government and railways fail to meet their demands.

The unions are under pressure after more than 95% of workers associated with them voted for a strike in the secret ballot.

As a day of strike would cost railways around Rs 800 crore, the unions are in favour of a negotiated settlement. The railways is the largest employer in the country with over 13 lakh people on its rolls and moves more than 2.2 crore people and two million tonnes of cargo every day.

AIRF general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra told that hectic negotiations with railway board were on.

Mishra said while the railways was serious about employees’ demands, finance ministry and government seemed to be reluctant.

While the demands include removing anomalies in the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation, sanction of addition posts in commensurate with additional workload and stopping of outsourcing of perennial jobs, the contentious demands are scrapping new pension scheme and stopping outsourcing and privatization.

NFIR had already written to the prime minister, finance minister, labour minister and railways to press for their demands before the coming vote on account in February.

“We are hoping that government will meet our demand before February 12 as there would be few cabinet meetings in this period,” said a NFIR spokesperson.

As strikes cause a huge disruption to the economy, Mishra said a decision to go on strike is tough, which is why the union decided to go for a ballot. “Nothing is better than negotiated settlement. We are going to general council meeting with open mind. We would go on strike if left with no other option is left,” he said.

The timing of the strike call is significant as unions are aware that UPA government would be under pressure with 2014 Lok Sabha polls are only few months away.

Since 1974, there have been two strike ballots, but no strikes. The strike ballot was held in 2006 demanding constitution of the Sixth Pay Commission. The issue was resolved after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Pay Commission.