Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Yukti Joshi THE HINDU  MUMBAI, JULY 20, 2019 


Not acceptable: Members of the Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh at a meeting outside the Divisional Railway Manager’s office on Friday. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) along with the Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) on Friday protested the proposed privatisation and corporatisation of production units that the Railway Ministry recently announced.

Members of the WRMS and protesters spoke out against the Railway Board’s decision to corporatise production units like the Air-Conditioned Coach factory at Kapurthala, Diesel Locomotive Workshop at Varanasi, Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, and Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Asansol.


The WRMS also held protests in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara, Ratlam and Bhavnagar.

“Units that have been working successfully and producing wagons, coaches, locomotives and air-conditioned coaches for the Railways are suddenly being corporatised without any consultation with the NFIR. Instead of upgrading and improving our units, they are being handed over to people who are going to misuse the system,” J.G. Mahurkar, general secretary, WRMS, said.

Mr. Mahurkar highlighted demands by the WRMS, including one to replace the new pension system with the old pension scheme, saying it is not beneficial for railway employees who joined after 2004. “There is no provision of giving a pension to unmarried, divorced or widowed daughters of railwaymen with disabled children, which was in the old pension scheme.”

The protestors also demanded an increase in the payment of senior supervisors who are graduates in mechanical, electrical and civil engineering to grade pay of ₹4,800 and appointment of children of railway employees who had passed the medical test before 2017 under the Liberalised Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment.

The Tejas Express, which runs between New Delhi and Lucknow, was recently handed over to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). “The performance of IRCTC has been poor. If they cannot supply quality food on trains, how can they run them?” Mr. Mahurkar asked.

The NFIR and the WSMR believe the privatisation of production units is being done for monetary gains and will ignore the needs and difficult working conditions of railway employees. “There are around 700 private contractors in the Western Railway who exploit their employees. They do not pay railway attendants for months on end,” Mr. Mahurkar said.

Tinkur Singh, an attendant on the Duronto Express, said he had not been paid for four months this year. “I had not been paid since January as my boss kept saying he would pay us for three months together. We never received a proper sum, which forces us to borrow money from our families,” Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Mahurkar said government employees have to face consequences for their actions. “Government employees are responsible for the safety of passengers. We cannot say the same about private corporations. Privatisation is a cancerous growth and we need to stop it before it spreads. The Railways is the country’s asset and the government does not have the right to sell it away,” he said.

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