The claim is also backed by the Railway Unions. They also point out that this is happening at a time when the department is facing a shortage of nearly 1.5 lakh personnel who conduct safety checks.
MUMBAI: The series of train accidents in the last four days has exposed yet another flaw in the Railways’ functioning: use of trackmen and gangmen for doing menial and household jobs.
For example, of the 10,000-odd trackmen and gangmen in Mumbai Division of Central and Western Railways, around 10-12 percent work at officer bungalows, rail quarters and offices, doing personal chores for their higher-ups like buying groceries, picking up kids from schools, gardening and washing clothes and utensils and bringing vegetables from the markets, and cleaning and maintenance of pets at Officers’ bungalows etc.
The claim is also backed by the railway unions. They also point out that this is happening at a time when the department is facing a shortage of nearly 1.5 lakh personnel who conduct safety checks. In Mumbai alone, there are vacancies of nearly 7,000 gangmen posts in CR and WR put together.
“We know that some trackmen are made to work in offices and homes. There is another issue of highly qualified men who are working as trackmen and gangmen. We have informed the ministry to look into matter,” said National Federation of Indian Railwaymen, general secretary, M Raghavaiah.
Almost every Officer – right from Asst.Scale to Principle HOD level misuse the Trackmen/Gangmen for various household chores. The officers sometimes are so cruel that if the Trackmen/Gangmen disobeys or absent to his personal chores, then they resort to marking absent for the day, and hits their monthly salary too. As is known, these lower rung staff’s salary is too less to maintain their families, and cut in the salary will burden these workers in a big way.
These gangmen are vital for the smooth functioning of train services as they check the condition of tracks, rails, sleepers and crossings. “There are at least 300 odd gangmen who are doing these jobs instead of being on tracks. In fact these people are made to sign roster once or twice at the end of month by the officers,” said a union leader from Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, there used to be at least 12-15 workers in one group whose numbers has drastically reduced to about 5-6 now. “There are few trackmen who are made to do jobs for which they are not appointed for. Main issue is the unfilled vacancy,” said Praveen Bajpai, general, secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh. Every day, these trackmen walk 20 kilometres on railway tracks only to ensure safety, for which they toil for 10-12 hours. They lack of quality footwear, jackets, helmets or gang huts for them to stay at night.