Indian Railways set to adopt a concerted Manpower Management strategy for Sustainable Growth of the state-run transporter

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is set to adopt a concerted manpower management strategy for sustainable growth of the state-run transporter. Railway Board has circulated ‘Manpower management strategy for Indian Railways’ to zonal railways and production units, emphasizing a compelling need for general managers to adopt a manpower management strategy.

Keeping in mind rising manpower cost and nearly 17 per cent vacancy in safety and non-safety category staff, the Railway Board has directed the general managers of 16 zonal railways and production units for repatriation of all essential safety category staff deployed at administrative units to field units, aggressively pursuing multi-tasking by employees, redeployment of staff according to need and creation of new posts.

Additionally, they have been asked to conduct a review of manpower in 18 categories of activities under mechanical, electrical, engineering, telecom, commercial, operating and accounts among others. They are supposed to submit a report to Railway Board by July 10.

According to the manpower analysis by the Railway Bord, the total railway staff strength is 12,65,599 and manpower strength of zonal railways is 12,01,548 as on Jan 1, 2018. The strength of safety category is 6,41,737 and non-safety being 5,59,811. The vacancy in safety category stood at 18.3 per cent while non-safety category vacancies was 15.2 per cent. Overall vacancy on zonal railways is 16.93 per cent. The leave reserve is as high as 30 per cent in safety category.

“All essential safety category staff deployed in administrative units in Railway Board, zonal railways, headquarters, divisional railways headquarters, to be repatriated immediately to their respective field units. Any exception should have the approval of higher authorities,’ said the strategy document approved by the Chairman, Railway Board and Member Staff.

According to railways, manpower costs have a direct implication on the future sustainability of the organisation. In the financial year 2016-17, the total staff cost including pension was `1,06,242 crores at 64.28 per cent of railways total earnings. With annual decade growth in staff cost, including pension, being 17.8 per cent during 2007-08 to 2018-19, there is a need to formulate a sustainable manpower strategy for railways, the Railway Board observed.

The strategy note also calls zonal railways to carry a review of activities of non-safety staff categories and explore possibilities of redeployment in light of some categories having lost relevance in the current context. Also, on the agenda is to aggressively pursue multi-tasking.“Railway has made considerable strides in various spheres of works of administrative nature in non-safety category through streamlining process, infusion of IT over the past few decades.

In this context, there have been many redundant categories and tremendous scope for redeployment and multi-skilling,” said the document.Giving freehand to GMs for creation of new posts, the Board has said that where there is a dire need for creation of posts, zonal railways should focus on creation of posts of ‘artisans’ rather than unskilled labour.