Thursday, July 21, 2011


Chairman Railway Board
            Rail Bhavan
New Delhi


              REF    :         NO. ERB – 1/2011/18 DATED 25.05.2011
            At the outset this association welcomes the high power committee on HOER (HOURS OF EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS)  even though delayed by five years with some apprehensions and wish to bring to your esteemed attention, the deficiencies of the committee expecting remedial actions.  This bureaucratic high power committee has been formed against the 14/2/06 JCM agreement and 2006 March strike conciliation with cabinet secretary’s assurance on judicial review of HOER.
                           AILRSA South Western Railway Zonal committee discussed the decision of appointing a High Power Review committee on Hours Of Employment Regulations (HOER) by Railway management and found the following deficiencies.
            1. Among the four members in the committee there are three retired railway bureaucrats which defeat the universal principle of law that “ONE SHALL NOT SIT AS A JUDGE IN HIS OWN CASE”.  All the three members form the majority and will think and act in favour of railway management due to the mind set developed during the long service in railways, over–ruling the chairman’s view and neutral character of committee will be lost.
            2. There is an absence of judicial member, the previous HOER review committee of 1948 had Justice Rajyadhaksha and in 1969 Justice Miaboy as judicial member and chairman although those were one man committee.  Almost all the labour laws are having a judicial background with bindings on apex court judgments and directions of ILO conventions, since India is a signatory to ILO and member country of common wealth nations.  The present HOER is the one which came into existence in 1931 before India became republic under the colonial British rule according to the railway act of 1890.  In 1989 the railway act was simply amended by its title as “Railway Act 1989” to give a new look with no change in its substance and contents according to Indian Constitution.  After 39 years of India becoming republic till 1989 so many acts and laws were amended in accordance to the Indian constitution and changed circumstances but railway act till today remains at 1890 even though it is now called as 1989.  To analyse the complex matters related to the railway act and Indian constitution and to frame a labour law without ambiguity a judicial member is a must and that judicial member should be appointed as the chairman of the high power committee.
            3. In democratic India there is Ministry of labour to study, frame, implement and monitor labour laws both in government and private sector.  In this high power committee the absence of a member from labour ministry is glaring and a member expert on labour issues is a must.  A high power committee without a member from labour ministry is illegal and not tenable.
            4. There is an absence of a trade union member in this committee.  The views and opinions of the labour side has to be presented by a trade union member particularly from loco running unions as it is a unique one with monopoly in railways with no scope for comparison with workers of any other transport sectors in India.
           5.   Since so many inhuman conditions are existing in the HOER like 12+1 working hours, 6 continuous night duties in a week, severe  noise pollution above permitted levels in the engines which effect the health of crew, a doctor expert in those areas should be included in the high power review committee. More over all the Assistant Loc Pilots at the entry level are initially recruited for A1 fitness and in due course of time they are not able to maintainA1 fitness due to High Blood Pressure, Diabetic complaints, Back pain developed due to severe vibrations and un scientific design of seats and loco cab, and deafness due to engine and horn sound beyond the prescribed level, becomes medically unfit. Presently railway is insisting A1 fitness till retirement without any improvement in duty rules and engine cab ergonomics. Medically unfit employees are deprived with justified alternative placement of job and retirement benefits ignoring the fact that it was because of bad working conditions of Railway. Recently a Senior Divisional Medical Officer of Nagpur gave a letter to GM/CR regarding the hazards of going foot plate in locomotive.

                 As per 11/2004 PB circular Railway Board introduced Safety Related Voluntary Retirement Scheme for loco pilots and gang men, stating their reflex action reduce along with deterioration of health due to unnatural hard working condition, prone to operational lapses is an admission by Railway management about the impact of their working rules. So a medical expert is a must in the High Power Review committee based on the above reasons.

            Lastly we wish to reproduce a small part of letter written by Hon. MP Sri. Rajeev Chandrasekhar to Hon. Prime Minister on the double stand of government on the issue of 300% hike of salary to MP’s and non-settlement of one rank one pension of ex-servicemen in Indian express of 27.08.2010.  The letter states “lack of objectivity and independence of process relates to the fact that in this case, the government has accepted the recommendations of a parliamentary committee comprising MP’s on this issue, whilst in other cases like one rank one pension, the govt. has chosen to use bureaucratic committees to evaluate and decide.  This leads to the perception that when govt wishes to deny a claim, it relays on committees of bureaucrats, who by now have developed a fine tuned reputation of obstructive conduct”
            Same is the fate of two recent bureaucratic committees like RAC (Running Allowance Committee) 2002 and FTC (Fast Track Committee) for loco running staff issues.  Since few MP’s sat in a parliamentary committee to decide their own case there was a hike of 300% on their salary endorsing the universal principle is true that “ONE SHALL NOT SIT A S A JUDGE ON HIS OWN CASE” and this is likely to repeat in favour of railway management with this composition of high power committee
            So this association requests your good self to modify the high power committee with minimum Five members inclusive of a retired Supreme Court Judge as judicial member and chairman with other members each from ministry of labour, ministry of railway, a medical expert and loco running staff trade union to ensure justice to all staff belonging to safety category of railways covered under HOER.  If the present high power committee is modified as suggested, it will appear to be a neutral one and one can expect some justice from the character and composition of the committee, and it will comply with the famous judicial principle that “Justice should not only be done but seemed to have been done.”
Thanking you,
                                                                                      Yours Sincerely

Bangalore                                                                        (C. Sunish)


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