TMC dreams to form Unions in Railways, Bank and Insurance sectors

KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is all set to form employees’ unions in the railway, banks and insurance companies in a bid to tap the huge workforce base in these sectors.

“On the directions of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal Chief Minister), we have decided to form employees’ union in the Indian Railways that has 15 lakh staff. Each of the railway zones will have a unit of the union,” TMC all-India vice president Mukul Roy told reporters here today.

“The national outfit will be called Indian Railway Trinamool Men’s Federation,” Roy said. “The unit for the Eastern Railway, will be called Eastern Railway Trinamool Men’s Congress; for South Eastern Railway, it will be South Eastern Railway Trinamool Men’s Congress and likewise for each zonal railway in the country,” the former Railway Minister said. “The party will form unions for banks and insurance companies in the public and the private sectors as well as for cooperative banks,” Roy said. It will be named All-India Bank and Insurance Employees’ Trinamool Federation, he said.

The TMC leader said under his leadership a committee, which was formed by Mamata Banerjee, will oversee the formation of the unions. Apart from Roy, the committee will comprise former Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, TMC MPs Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and MLA Manas Bhuniya. “We will try to ensure that the rights and benefits of employees in these sectors are maintained through negotiations with the employers instead of going on strikes and calling bandhs,” the TMC national vice-president said.

Earlier Controversies on Mukul Roy while serving as Minister of State for Railways

Mukul Roy is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha representing West Bengal and he also serves as the National Vice-President of his party – the All India Trinamool Congress. After Mamata Banerjee resigned as the Railway Minister she was to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Roy was handed additional charge of the Railway Ministry after Mamata expressed her desire that her party retain the Railway Ministry (as she always felt that West Bengal and importantly Kolkata holds the Headquarters of two important Railway Zones of the country – one being the Eastern Railway and the other being the South Eastern Railway, so that she can wrestle grip over the employee base there) and personally recommended Mr.Roy to the then Prime Minister Mr.Singh. Roy served as a Minister of State in the Railway Ministry with Manmohan Singh serving as the Cabinet Minister (pro tem) till 11 July 2011.

Mukul Roy always remained at the center of multiple controversies. On 11 July 2011, when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed Mukul Roy to visit an accident site near Rangiya where a train derailed in Assam following a blast, leading to Guwahati-Puri Express mishap injuring over 100 people and 66 people have died, Mukul Roy openly defied PM instructions to visit the mishap site, arguing that the track had been cleared and there was nothing for him to do. Sources in the then PMO said Roy, who belongs to Trinamool Congress, told the Prime Minister that the affected railway track had been cleared and injured moved to hospital and that there was nothing for him to inspect. When media and other agencies contacted him over the same, he even more harshly said, “I have nothing to say. I suggest you people contact the General Manager of the NF Railway about this.”

This brought a lot of displeasure among the political circles and he was shunted out of the Railways portfolio in the next cabinet reshuffle on 12 July 2011.

In 2012, he was the subject of a controversy regarding the Railway Budget. This happened after Mamata Banerjee expressed her discontent with the increase in passenger fares, and demanded the resignation of Dinesh Trivedi, Railway Minister. After Dinesh resigned, Mukul became the Railway Minister of India and he removed the fare hike introduced by the former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, to much criticism. With the exit of Trinamool from UPA coalition due to allowance of 51% FDI in retail and aviation sector, Mukul Roy’s tenure of railway minister came to an end in the month of September 2012.

Though TMC has had three Railway Ministers, including Banerjee, during the previous NDA and the UPA governments, it has had little presence in trade unions in the Indian Railways, which is dominated by the Left, the Congress and the BJP-leaning workers bodies. The bank and insurance sectors are dominated by Left-leaning unions, apart from Congress and BJP’s trade union wings. Roy said the process for getting the trade union bodies registered would begin soon.

When RailNews correspondent contacted few members of some trade unions including employees and officers across various zonal railways asked their opinion about Mr.Mukul Roy announcement, they out-rightly ruled out him as having any reputation within the Railways – as he was the one who did not even turn up to reach out to over 100 injured in an accident near Rangiya where over 66 passengers were killed.  How can he claim to come back. We will forcefully shunt him out of Railways – be it what it may; they said.