Railway unions will go for polls on April 25, 26 and 27 throughout the nation. Even as the political parties are busy with filing their nominations, the 12,40,000 odd railway employees in the country, are busy campaigning for their union polls scheduled to be held on April 25, 26 and 27. While the railway station premises and railway colonies have been adorned with posters and banners, the campaigners are busy in door-to-door visit at Railway quarters, distributing electioneering phamlets and badges.
Trade Unions securing at least 30 per cent vote of the total number of voters in the respective Railway zone or securing minimum 35 per cent of the total polled votes will get through in the referendum. National Federation of Indian Railways (NFIR), Bharatiya Railway Mazdoor Sangh (BRMS), All India Railway Men’s Federation (AIRF) are the major central trade unions involved in the battle. The process of referendum and counting of votes are conducted by Railway authorities. May 2 is the counting day and the results will be announced by afternoon.
Zonal Trade Unions
As referendum is being held according to each zone, all central unions have got their respective zonal unions too. In Southern Railway, Southern Railway Employees Sangh (SRES) represents the zonal union of NFIR, Dakshina Railway Karmik Sangh (DRKS) for BRMS and Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) for AIRF. In National Trade union level, NFIR is affiliated with INTUC, BRMS with BMS and AIRF with HMS.
In the Southern Railway, in 2007, where the referendum was held last time, only two unions, SRMU and Dakshina Railway Employees Union (DREU) managed to get Railway recognition. DREU is the Railway employees’ faction of CITU. In 2007, SRMU secured 31.2 per cent votes and DREU above 30 per cent. A total of eight trade unions are fighting it out on this time in Southern Railway. Railway referendum polling procedure is very much similar to that of general elections except the presence of Electronic Voting Machines. Ballot paper, election symbol allotted to each union, putting ink on voter’s fingure… everything is there. According to the Railway muster roll, 86,200 voters are in Southern Railway Zone of which 6,874 come under Palakkad division.
In Mangalore depot which comprises Ullal, Mangalore central, Panambur and Mangalore Junction, there are a total of 954 voters. The voters can vote on any of the three days according to their work schedule. Railway Permanent way Inspector’s office at Mangalore central premise is the polling station and the polling time is between 8 am and 5 pm. The counting will be held at Palakkad on May 2.
Campaign in full swing
DREU Palakkad division Assistant Secretary T Suresh told that election campaign works are in full swing at all stations. “DREU is requesting votes on behalf of its pro-employee stand it has been upholding all through the years,” he said. Suresh claims that DREU was in the forefront of several agitations against curtailing benefits of Railway employees. SRMU Mangalore branch Secretary Ananda also lists several achievements his union successfully fought for the welfare of employees. Star is the election symbol of DREU, whereas flag is that of SRMU and train that of SRES. The campaigning was started on March 18 and since then leaders and workers are busy canvassing and wooing voters. Poster campaign, graffiti writing in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and English languages, putting up big banners… all have made Railway premises wear a festive look at Mangalore Central station.