Railway Unions protest bid to privatize Railway properties

VADODARA: Railway unions up the ante against railway ministry’s proposed move to commercialize and outsource railway properties. On Friday, the Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) called for a divisional council meeting in Vadodara, where more than 300 railway employees gathered to oppose the move.

“The workers are shocked to read Railway Board’s June 4 letter, forcing 70 divisions of zonal railways to surrender one old colony located in commercial active areas. They have been asked to entrust these to the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) for re-development and commercial exploitation of these land parcels,” said WRMS general secretary J G Mahurkar, who is also vice president of the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR).

“The overall concept is to sell railway colonies without providing its inhabitants any rehabilitation facilities. How can the railway employees vacate their quarters suddenly when no alternate arrangement has been made for them by the railway ministry?” he questioned.

He said Indian Railways has been serving the country ever since the first passenger train ran between Bombay and Thane in April 16, 1853. “The performance of railway men, amid bad working conditions because of shortage of staff in all categories and violation of rest rules, is commendable,” Mahurkar said.

“The railway ministry is also trying to rope in private operators to run passenger and mail and express trains which are being offered to Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) who do not possess any knowledge of train operation nor concern for passengers’ safety,” he alleged.

The unions urged the railway ministry “to bury the hatchet of privatization and outsourcing and save the country from chaotic conditions.”

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