Central Railway staff plans for Flash Strike today

MUMBAI: Central Railway services may be affected on Friday as employee unions have threatened to resort to work to rule if their demand to increase the reporting time of motormen and guards for the first scheduled train departure to 30 minutes is not met by evening.

On Wednesday evening, more than 150 CR services were delayed and over 70 cancelled after motormen and guards went on a flash strike for 25 minutes. The agitation was owing to differences between the railway administration and union over sign-on or reporting time. The union wants the reporting time to be increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes before the first scheduled train departure. The union has threatened to resort to work to rule if their demands are not met by Friday evening.

As motormen and guards refused to board the trains between 5pm and 5.25pm on Wednesday, more than 150 services were delayed and 70 services cancelled. If the talk fail, commuters can expect hardship as the trains are likely to run behind schedule.

“For 20 years, motormen and guards have been reporting 20 minutes before a train departure. An allowance of 10 minutes for a 14-day period will lead to an overtime of 120 minutes, which means they will earn Rs 1,400 per fortnight after an overtime of 120 minutes over a cumulative period of 14-days. In any case, the average working hours of the staff is 6.50 hours, well below the stipulated time of eight hours a day,” said a CR official.

But unions said that 30-minute reporting time is justified as motormen and guards need more time to take breathalyzer tests, read circulars.

But Venu Nair, divisional general secretary of the National Railway Mazdoor Union, said, “The length of trains has increased from six-car to 12 and also 15, but reporting time has not increased over the year.

We will resort to work-to-rule agitation on Friday if the railway administration does not accept our demand.”

Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh’s divisional chairman Pravin Bajpai said, “Motormen are under excessive pressure as vacancies are not being filled. A 30-minute reporting time is good enough as they will have adequate time to complete all formalities before boarding trains.”

At present, there are 583 guards against the sanctioned strength of 847, and 754 motormen against the approved strength of 870.

The issue

* In March, a schedule chart is prepared in the detail book in consultation with the administration and two representatives from guards and motormen. The panel that approved the detail book is led by the senior divisional operational manager

* In June, the detail book is printed. It mentions that motormen and guards have to sign in 30 minutes before scheduled departure

* Later, the administration claims it had been a printing error and issues a corrigendum stating that sign-on period will be 20 minutes as the panel had not approved of 30 minutes

* Union disputes the version. After several negotiations, motormen and guards resort to an impromptu agitation on Wednesday evening