Saturday, November 24, 2018

PRIVATISATION OF RAILWAYS – A DESTRUCTIVE MOVE, THE NATION IS BEING PUT ON SALE 

The Indian Railways continues, till now, as the cheapest mode of transport for hundreds of lakhs of our people. It carries over 2 crore people every day from one place to another. It is estimated that the total distance covered by both passenger and freight trains in a day in India is, on an average, 3 million kms - a little less than 10 times the distance between the earth and the moon! Built by the toil of lakhs of workers who faced extreme conditions including starvation and endemic diseases while negotiating difficult terrains across the country, Indian Railways till today remains world’s largest railway system under a single management - the government of India. 

But the BJP led government appears to be determined to change this. It has decided to dismantle and hand over this colossus establishment to the private players, domestic and foreign and is going ahead in that direction. 

Despite its immense service to the common people, particularly the poor, successive governments have neglected to expand and upgrade the railway network to meet the increasing demands of the nation, by allocating adequate financial resources. With the official advent of neoliberal policies in the country under the Congress led regime in 1991, Indian Railways too have become a target for privatisation. 

What ails Indian Railways? 

The neglect in expanding the tracks, improving the infrastructure, increasing the personnel and up grading the technology and safety systems is reflected in the spate of train accidents in the country. It is witnessed in the hundreds of people who have lost their lives and the thousands who have been injured and maimed for life in these accidents. According to the Economic Times, India led the world in train accidents in 2016 despite the fact that the number of accidents have come down. Data tabled in the Rajya Sabha show that the number of deaths from train derailments in 2016-17 was the highest in a decade. Majority of train accidents are caused due to derailment followed by accidents at level crossings. On an average there were over 2 accidents in a week in 2015-16, as per the Indian Railways Yearbook. 

Defective tracks 

According to a January 2017 report of the Task Force on Safety, train derailments are mainly due to defective tracks and rolling stock. The ‘White Paper’ of the Railway Ministry in February 2015 says that 4500 kms of track needs to be renewed, i.e. replaced, every year. But this is not being done because of ‘financial constraints’. As a result, the backlog goes on increasing. At present it is estimated that over 10000 kms of track, i.e. around 10% of the total track in the country, needs replacement. 

Defective tracks would naturally require huge expenditure on maintenance including deployment of staff. But the government is not even doing this. Instead of increasing, the Railway Ministry has reduced the workforce responsible for track maintenance and supervision. The sanctioned number of trackmen has been reduced from 4 lakhs to 2.75 lakhs. 41467 posts of trackmen and 2434 posts of keymen (those who inspect a length of track every day to detect and report defects, a job, which is particularly critical for the over-aged tracks) were lying vacant as on 1st April 2016. 

Over aged signals 

Another very important aspect on which the safety of trains depends is the signalling systems. Like the tracks, the signalling gear has also become outdated and needs replacement. Every year more than 200 signal gear become over aged and need to be replaced. But the Indian Railways is currently replacing signal gear at only around 100 stations every year. The ghastly accident in Itarsi in 2015 was a result of the delay in replacing the signalling equipment leading to total destruction and failure of signal. The Task Force opined that at the present rate, it would take 7-8 years for full replacement. 

This is only about replacement, not about installing new advanced signalling systems. As in the case of tracks, so in the case of signalling systems, old equipment requires more personnel and more efforts at maintenance. But here too, the staff strength ‘has been in constant decline over the years’ as the Task Force noted. In addition, 3454 posts in the signal maintenance staff category are lying vacant. An instance of signal malfunctioning will illustrate the dangerous implications of this. On 27th July 2017, following a thunderstorm, the signal in Chengalpattu yard in Tamil Nadu showed the ‘all clear’ signal for all routes although clearance was to be given on only one route. Several instances of ‘all clear’ signals suddenly changing to ‘danger’ signals have been reported by the loco pilots often making it impossible for the driver to avert accidents and save lives, including his/her own. 

Vacant posts 

There are 1.22 lakhs posts vacant in the railways in the safety category itself. This includes loco pilots (11442 vacancies; i.e. almost 25% of the sanctioned strength), assistant pilots (6574 vacancies; i.e. 15% of sanctioned strength) and shunters (2714; i.e. one third of sanctioned strength). Look at a recent example of the attitude of the Railways towards recruitment of staff: the Southern Railways sought permission to recruit 680 loco pilots; the Railway Board cleared only 280. The Southern Railways wanted to recruit 2800 group C personnel including safety category technicians; the Board cleared only 400! As a result, the loco pilots are highly overworked; they have to work far beyond their stipulated hours of duty without proper rest; often without any rest. The stress and fatigue affect safety of train operations. 

The Railway Board Chairman told the Parliamentary Committee that the expenditure on railways as a proportion of overall expenditure on the transport sector has come down from 54% in the Seventh Five Year Plan to 30% in the Eleventh Five Year Plan. As a result, expansion of network has been ‘severely stunted’ with ‘undue burden’ on the existing infrastructure. 40% of the railway sections are reported to be running at more than 100% of their line capacity. The persistent lack of adequate investment meant that while the passenger and goods traffic has grown 14 and 17 times respectively during the last over six decades, the route kilometres of track have grown only by 23%. 

Under funding 

Accidents at unmanned level crossings are a major cause of death. A High Level Safety Review Committee constituted under the chairmanship of Dr Anil Kakodkar recommended that Rs 50000 crore should be spent over five years to build railway over bridges and under bridges to eliminate such crossings. While the target was not met up to 2013, it was reduced by 50% in 2014-15. It is already over five years since the Safety Review Committee submitted its recommendations. At the present rate of fund allocation, it will take another 10 years to achieve this. 

One of the recommendations of Dr Anil Kakodkar committee was to stop manufacturing of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) type coaches that are prone to mount on one another during derailments causing more deaths and to manufacture LHB (Linke Hoffman Busch) coaches which do not have this telescopic effect and are fire retardant. It has also recommended establishment of facilities for their repair and maintenance in yards and workshops. But even today, out of the 65000 coaches in the Indian Railways, only 4000 are of LHB type. Even these are produced through outsourced contracts compromising safety. The Railways needs around 5500 new coaches a year. But the annual production is only 3200. Instead of increasing production, the same rakes are utilised for other trains to meet the increasing demand. The earlier policy of maintenance of trains after every run is abandoned. 

Destructive way for ‘Safal Sukhad Mangalmay Yatra’ 

The above situation makes it clear what the government needs to do, if it is really serious to ensure ‘safal, sukhad evam mangalmay yatra’ for the common people -increase expenditure on renewal of the tracks, update signalling system, provide safe and comfortable coaches, and update and modernise the coach factories, and above all, recruit adequate staff in all departments particularly related to safety, and improve their working conditions, among many other things. 

But, instead of doing this, the government has decided to hand over the railways to private players, both domestic and foreign. Successive governments during the last twenty five years have directed their efforts more on diluting the responsibility of the government and increasing private participation in the Railways, than ensuring safe and comfortable journey to the common people. 

Soon after coming to power in 2014, the BJP led NDA government under Prime Minister Modi dismantled the Planning Commission and set up the NITI Ayog (National Institute for Transforming India) which was entrusted with the task of identifying central public sector undertakings that were to be disinvested and sold off. In August 2014, the government announced 100% FDI in almost all activities performed by the Indian Railways – construction, operation, maintenance, rolling stock, dedicated lines, train sets etc. 

‘Mobilisation of Resources’? 

It has also constituted a High Level Committee with NITI Ayog member Bibek Debroy as chairman for ‘Mobilisation of Resources for Major Railway Projects and Restructuring of Railway Ministry and Railway Board’. The government is implementing the Bibek Debroy committee recommendations in right earnest. It has abandoned the practice of submitting the Railway Budget separately in Parliament and merged it with the General Budget. The Bibek Debroy committee expressed its unhappiness that despite several initiatives by the previous governments to rope in the private sector, the private sector was not forthcoming to invest in the Railways in a big way. Instead of augmenting public investment in this highly essential public utility, the Debroy committee pushed for the more destructive route of unbundling of the Indian Railways. It said ‘an atmosphere of trust is absolutely necessary for private sector entry. Hence it is imperative to split the roles of policy making, regulation and operations’, totally unmindful of the synergy required between these processes. Accordingly the BJP government under Modi is embarking upon the road to split the Indian Railways vertically and horizontally, unbundle it and hand it over to the private corporates. In fact the whole idea of unbundling of Indian Railways has been mooted to facilitate privatisation in pieces. Splitting of policy making, regulation and operations is conceived to supplement such philistine motive. ‘Mobilisation of resources’ is a mere cover to camouflage this ill motive. 

As in other sectors, many activities under the Indian Railways have already been outsourced. Cleaning, catering, maintenance works in coaches, workshops, sheds, yards, ticketing etc have been outsourced to private players. It is estimated that over 7 lakh contract employees are working in Indian Railways, doing the same work but being paid a pittance of Rs 6000 to Rs 9000 per month. Their number is increasing while the number of permanent workers is coming down. More jobs are being outsourced, to be done by contract workers who are subjected to severe exploitation. But the government clearly thinks that this is not enough. 

‘Make in India’ – by destroying ‘The gems of Indian Railways’! 

Production units are rightly claimed as ‘the gems of Indian Railways’, by the Ministry of Railways itself. The 6 production units of Indian Railways manufacture more than 600 diesel and electric locos and more than 3000 coaches per year. The government claims of having several advantages by in house manufacture of rolling stock – i) the production units not only assimilate and adopt new technology, they enable Indian Railways to own the technology as well; ii) cost of locomotives and coaches manufactured by our production units is much lower than the market rate, iii) it costs much less to maintain assets manufactured in our own factories as many critical subassemblies are also manufactured here and iv) production units enable import substitution and promote ancillary industries. 

Thus, by manufacturing the rolling stock, we not only ‘Make in India’; we also own the technology; we produce at less cost and also generate employment by promoting ancillary industries. As a result the cost of operation also remains cheaper. 

But the BJP led Modi government that spends hundreds of crores of rupees on advertising its slogan of ‘Make in India’, is in practice going ahead with dismantling and destroying what is actually being made in India. General Electric, a huge American multinational corporation has been given the contract for setting up a diesel locomotive unit in Marhaura in Bihar. The contract was approved in 2014 when the UPA was in power and was finally signed by the NDA government. As per the contract Indian Railways would buy 1000 diesel locomotives from General Electric over 10 years. It was reported in the media that the Railways was discussing a proposal to exit this diesel locomotive project in view of its plans for near total electrification of tracks by 2022, to combat pollution. General Electric issued a stern warning that any such decision would ‘cause the government to incur substantial costs’. The government was compelled to retract. The Railway Minister had to immediately issue a statement that the project was on track. 

It is reported that under the contract, General Electric will ‘supply and maintain’ diesel locomotives of 4500 HP and 6000 HP. The first locomotive has reportedly ‘arrived’ from the USA at the Mundra Port in Gujarat. The CEO of GE South Asia has reportedly said that they plan to ‘deliver 100 locomotives per year on an average’. It is obvious that GE is not going to manufacture the diesel locomotives in India; they will only be assembled and maintained. What an innovative way to ‘Make in India’ indeed! 

Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), the production unit in Varanasi - one of the ‘gems of Indian Railways’ - has been producing diesel locomotives and continuously upgrading them. It has indigenously produced India’s first diesel locomotive engine of 5500 HP, ‘Bheem’, in 2015 through a joint effort with RDSO (Research Design and Standards Organisation) of the Indian Railways with support from EMD (Electro Motive Diesel) of the USA. It has been manufacturing 4500 HP diesel locomotives. It has set a new record by manufacturing 330 diesel locomotives in 2015-16 against the target of 320. It was felicitated by the then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu as the ‘best production unit’. 

What is the reason for importing diesel locomotives when our own Varanasi Diesel Locomotive Works can produce them and possesses the capacity of supplying more than 300 locomotives every year compared to only 100 by GE? As the Indian Railways itself admits, the cost of production in our production units is much lower. Why should the government spend more money for buying from these multinationals instead of investing in further development of our research and indigenous capabilities? 

The French firm Alstom has been given the contract for electric locomotive unit in Madhepura. The General Electric and the Alstom deals are together worth Rs 40000 crore. The cost of locos from these two units is estimated to be 2-3 times of those being manufactured by our own manufacturing units. A former member of Railway Board, RC Acharya said that the country saved Rs 20000 crores annually through manufacturing the rolling stock within the country. In addition these companies are allowed maintenance of the locos in the sheds run by these two companies. These measures are bound to lead to the closure of the existing production units and workshops of Indian Railways. Thousands of workers are likely to lose their jobs. Job creation or job destruction – what is this government aiming at through this brand of “Make in India”? 

The Integral Coach Factory in Chennai has turned out its ‘first complete state of the art LHB coach’ in 2014 and is getting ready to ‘complete switch over to production of stainless steel LHB main line coaches in the next five years’. The Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala is building LHB coaches fit to run at 160 km per hour, which are upgradable to 200 km per hour. The Rae Bareily coach factory has the capacity to produce 1000 LHB coaches a year. But it is manufacturing only 150 LHB coaches a year, obviously at the direction of the Ministry. The government is not placing orders for its full capacity utilisation. Instead, the entire production of wagons has been handed over to private companies. 

Will it not be wiser to invest in further development of technology in our production units all of which have proven competence in adopting and absorbing new technology? Keeping our production units and maintenance sheds idle and signing contracts with multinational companies at higher cost – is this the type of ‘Make in India’ being promoted by the Prime Minister Modi? Is this how he proposes to generate employment? Is this BJP’s brand of ‘nationalism’ and ‘desh bhakti’? 

The government has also decided to close down the printing presses which the Indian Railways has been maintaining in various parts of the country. Probably this too is meant to benefit the printing presses in the private sector which would get huge orders for printing material that a mammoth organisation like the Indian Railways would require. 

Privatisation through Regulator 

The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of a Rail Development Authority (RDA) through an executive order as per the recommendation of the Bibek Debroy committee. The aims and objectives of the RDA are –fixing passenger fare and freight charges commensurate with the costs, providing access of the existing railway tracks to private passenger and freight train operators, encourage private investment by providing a ‘level playing field’ and safeguarding the interests of private players etc. 

The passenger and freight charges will, henceforward, be decided on the basis of cost. At present, passenger fares comprise 53% of the cost with 47% of the cost being subsidised. This subsidy will now be given a go by. This means that the fares will almost double. Indian Railways, till now an affordable mode of transport for the poor and toiling people, will no more be so. The passenger fares in Indian Railways will be increased to provide a ‘level playing field’ for the corporates so that they can compete with the Indian Railways and earn profits. The government is obviously eager to ensure profits for the private corporates by throwing away its responsibility of ensuring the requirements of the common people. Private players can also use the present tracks laid with public money, without making any extra investment. They have to pay only access charge. The concept of subsidising traffic of essential commodities will also be removed. Private operators will be allowed access to all existing infrastructure like yards, sheds, and workshops for maintenance of their coaches, wagons and engines etc. Already TATA is running its freight trains. 

Measures are in advance to hand over the railway stations to private corporates. The government has decided to hand over more than 400 A1 and A category stations in the country to private corporates for developing them into so called ‘world class’ ones. Already tenders have been called for redevelopment of 23 major stations including New Delhi, Mumbai, Howrah, Chennai, Bengaluru, Secunderabad, Vijayawada, Calicut etc. Habibganj station in Bhopal has become the first station in the country to be handed over to the Bansals for development under the PPP model. 

The private contractors who will manage the station will be called Station Facilitation Managers (SFM). The contract will be given to SFM in lieu of lease premium charge and lease rent. The lease will be for 45 years. They will be responsible for station development and also commercial development in the stations and the land attached to it. To start with activities like train operations, ticketing of passenger and platform tickets, goods movement, overhead tractions, signal and telecommunication, track related work, will remain with the railway authority. The SFM will employ its own employees. The existing railway employees in the station and related jobs will be forced out to elsewhere. 

Death Knell to Indian Railways as a public service 

The entire thrust of Bibek Debroy committee recommendations, which the government has already started implementing, is towards privatisation of Indian Railways. It has recommended turning Indian Railways into a corporation to facilitate its privatisation. 

Its major recommendations are: 

Access to private operators for loading and unloading of goods on new tracks being built by the Dedicated Freight Corridors Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL). It says, ‘anyone who runs trains on DFCCIL should pay directly to DFCCIL and not to the Indian Railways’. 

· Separate the Indian Railway Finance Corporation from Indian Railways. It will own all locomotives, coaches and wagons which will be leased out to private firms for running their trains. 

· Form an Indian Railway Infrastructure Corporation by separating railway track, stations, electrical installations and signal systems from Indian Railways; this will lease path for running trains for those who seek it 

· Form a Railway Manufacturing Company comprising all production units – Integral Coach Factory (Chennai), Rail Coach Factory (Kapurthala), Chitaranjan Locomotive Works (near Asansol, West Bengal), Diesel Locomotive Works (Varanasi), Rail Wheel Factory (Bengaluru) etc 

· Constitute Indian Railway Real Estate Trust to own, develop and lease all railway colonies, unused lands and railway buildings to anybody on demand 

· All suburban services to be handed over to the state governments 

· Close down all loss making lines and services unless the state governments or local bodies take them over or compensate the loss 

· The public sector units under the Railway Board, like the Konkan Railways, IRCTC, IRCON (Indian Railway Construction Corporation), CONCOR (Container Corporation of India), RITES (Railway Infrastructure Technical and Economic Services), Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, Rail Land Development Authority etc will be made independent to facilitate privatisation. The last Railway Budget decided to list the railway public sector companies like IRCON (Indian Railway Construction Corporation), CONCOR (Container Corporation of India) etc in stock market and thereby put them on sale. 

· Withdraw security facilities for the passengers through the RPF (Railway Protection Force), GRP (Government Railway Police) 

· Privatise railway hospitals and schools 

These measures will sound the death knell for the railways as a public service. They will directly affect the lakhs of railway workers employed in the railways as well as the common people as passengers and consumers of all the goods being transported by the railways from one corner of the country to another. 

The number of railway employees has already been consciously reduced as a policy, during the last twenty five years of neoliberal regime. This has increased the work load on the existing employees and the risk for the passengers. The number of contract workers, outsource workers has enormously risen during this period. Socially oppressed sections like the SC/ST are deprived of their statutory right to reservation in jobs as a result of privatisation as well as contractorisation/outsourcing. Large numbers of jobs earlier performed by railway workers are now outsourced to contractors. The contract workers are subjected to the worst type of inhuman exploitation. They are paid one third or one fourth of the wages paid to regular workers even while they do the same work. They are not provided with any social security benefits. 

The main question before us today, is – does the government consider providing affordable transport services to the crores of common people of this country, the workers travelling to and from their workplaces or in search of work every day, to the students commuting to their schools and colleges far from their homes every day, as its responsibility or not? Does the government understand that the poor agricultural workers and peasants travelling to towns and cities in search of livelihood need cheap travel facility, which is now being provided by Indian Railways, or not? Does the government intend to take away train travel from the reach of the common people and the poor and convert it into a purely commercial venture that can be afforded by only a few? 

International experience 

Service is not the motto of the private sector. It does not invest for charity. It invests for profits and often selects areas which provide more profits. It closes shop and withdraws from that enterprise if it does not get its anticipated profits. It does not bother about the difficulties to the people or the loss of jobs to the workers. That is the experience all over the world and across various sectors, roads, airways, railways etc. It is regrettable that our government does not want to learn from the experiences of countries which have privatised railways. Or is it that it is not interested, given its eagerness to satisfy the profit hungry domestic and foreign corporates? 

British Rail, the railways of Great Britain was privatised by 1996. Initially it was divided into Rail track and a residual British Rail operating company. Rail track was sold to private sector in 1996. British Rail was split into around 25 train operating companies, almost all of which were sold to the private sector or closed down. Trouble began soon after privatisation of Rail track. By 1999, 38 people were killed and over 600 injured in two major train accidents. After another major accident in 2000 killing 4 more, the British government was compelled to intervene and form a public sector company ‘Network Rail’ in 2003 for taking over rail track infrastructure. The British experience in privatising railways is generally termed a total failure. The discontent of the people against rail privatisation was evident in the massive response to inclusion of renationalisation of railways in the manifesto of the Labour Party in the recent elections to the British Parliament. 

Committees formed to evaluate the accidents in Britain and Australia have pointed out that lack of coordination among different companies in infrastructure, track and operations was one of the major causes, with each trying to maximise its profits at the cost of safety. In the UK, the private companies resorted to major fare hikes to recoup losses. Rail companies were allowed to walk away from their obligations leaving the tax payers to bill their services! After the failure in the UK, other European countries have adopted wait and watch attitude. 

In New Zealand, the process of deregulation, commercialisation and privatisation of railways saw a drastic reduction in the number of employees from 21000 with the Railways department in 1982 to 3757 with Tranz Rail in 2002. But the government had to assume ownership of the national rail network again in 2004. 

In Argentina the railway network, which was nationalised from British government in 1948 was privatised almost 40 years later, in 1989. The state owned company was running a network of 35000 km of track and employed 92000 people. After privatisation the length of network was drastically cut down to one quarter of its capacity. Long distance trains almost completely disappeared. Many lines were closed down or discarded. The private companies were reluctant to make the necessary investment to increase capacity. Service quality and the number of passengers sharply declined. Railway privatisation resulted in the loss of around 70000 jobs over the years. By 1998 around 793 railway stations had been closed. This has resulted in many rural towns dependent on the railways being abandoned creating ghost towns. Agriculture faced difficulties because peasants had to transport their produce by road incurring costs over 70% higher than the state owned services. The private operators persistently ignored warnings from inspectors and failed to maintain railway infrastructure as per their contractual obligations. The government had to subsidise the private companies almost to the same level as the losses incurred when it was managing the railways, while the services and infrastructure deteriorated. 

The Argentinean government was compelled to nationalise some lines and railway companies and in 2015 announced complete nationalisation of the railway lines and services. The Argentine Senate passed the law in April 2015 effectively nationalising the country’s railways, which was supported by political parties across the spectrum. 

Indian Experience in PPP 

In our own country, the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model was attempted in Mumbai, Hyderabad and the Airport line in Delhi. All these have proved to be failures. In the Delhi Metro’s Airport line, Reliance invested in rolling stock, electrification and signalling and started operating the line. When it found that it was incurring losses, Reliance abandoned it. DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) had to take it over and operate it. 

In Mumbai, Reliance Infrastructure took almost 7 years to complete the 11 km of elevated part of Mumbai Metro Line 1. It is charging very high fares but still claims that it is losing around Rs 50 lakh every day. 

In the case of Hyderabad, 300 acres of land was offered to L&T for property development as a ‘sweetener’. It is now more than seven years since the project started. But even a section has not been opened till now, because if it is done, L&T has to start repaying the bank loan. L&T has already started claiming compensation from the government for its loss of revenue. 

According to E Sreedharan, former Managing Director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, popularly known as the ‘Metro Man’, nowhere in the world has the PPP model in construction and maintenance of Metro rail completely succeeded. He says that it is very foolish for the government to invest all the money in setting up infrastructure and then hand over operations to private parties and allow them to enjoy the revenues. 

‘Would Mumbai have been able to survive without its suburban rail services? The government had invested 100% in it. It is losing money but that doesn’t matter. If the government doesn’t invest, who will’ asks Sreedharan. He says, ‘The government has to ensure affordable public transport and hence it must invest in it... A good, reliable transportation system is a must to make a city livable and for its economic growth’. 

Conclusion 

Privatisation of railways is a part of the broader privatisation of public sector, public resources and public services etc. It is an integral component of the neoliberal policies that seek to transfer public wealth to private hands. Across the world these policies are being implemented by governments elected with the votes of the people but working for the benefit of the big corporates, domestic and foreign. 

In our country, successive governments at the centre, whether led by the Congress or the BJP have been implementing these policies since the last twenty five years. Privatisation of railways is not something that is of concern for the railway employees alone. It is related to the right to affordable transport for the people, particularly the poor. But it is not only that. It is related to protecting the wealth of our nation; the wealth of our country, our people. As part of the public sector, railways are the property of the people of our country. It cannot be allowed to be sold off by a government which is eager to satisfy its corporate masters, a government which is ready to sacrifice the interests of the people and the nation for the benefit of the big domestic and foreign corporates. The railway employees and the commuters, in fact, all sections of the workers and common people in general, have to join together to save the railways from being grabbed by the private companies. 

Such grave anti-national and destructive conspiracy shall not and cannot pass. 

The joint trade union movement has strongly opposed privatisation of railways. It has once again raised the issue from the joint national trade union convention on 8th August 2017. This is one of the major issues on which it has called the massive unprecedented three days dharna, the ‘mahapadav’ of the working class near Parliament on 9-11 November 2017. 

Let us send a strong warning to the BJP led government that privatisation and handing over of Indian Railways, the prestigious institution of the nation will not be tolerated. Let us make it clear to the government that it can go ahead with its dangerous plan only at its own peril. The working class will gear up for an indefinite country wide general strike, if the government dares to neglect the united voices of the workers and all sections of the toiling people, as the national joint trade union convention has decided. 



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