Rival Railway Unions fight over recognition in Chennai

CHENNAI: An argument over ‘recognition’ between members of two rival unions of Southern Railway resulted in a brawl on Tuesday, which left three injured. The incident is said to have happened at around 3.30 pm at Perambur carriage works, when a visiting high ranking official from the Railway Board was to be received.

Several railway employees, including members from both Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) and Southern Railway Employees Sangh (SRES), were there to receive the official.

SRMU, led by N Kanniah, is the sole recognised employee union in Southern Railways following an election. However, there are several other unions which fight for the welfare of employees.

According to sources, members of SRMU questioned the presence of employees belonging to SRES at the ceremony to welcome the railway official. SRES is not recognised, according to the SRMU and the former took offence at this. A verbal exchange erupted leading to fist fight out between the two groups.

All the three injured, belonging to SRMU, were said to have suffered cuts and bruises. One of them, Rajendran, a retired employee is an SRMU office bearer. Two others were identified as Selvaraj and Prithiviraj.

They were taken to the Railway Hospital in Aynavaram for treatment.

According to ICF police, there have been frequent tensions between members of the two rival unions. “We have received complaints from both sides. They often fight among themselves due to prior enmity, but used to settle their differences through mutual discussions,” a police official said.

Railway officials fear that the incident, which happened in the presence of RB Member (Rolling Stock) Ravindra Gupta, who was inspecting carriage works, might harm the image of Southern Railway. It is learnt that an official enquiry would be conducted by the mechanical department to punish those involved. Officials from both unions could not be reached for comment.