Monday, November 7, 2011


WP TO WAP4-INDEED A GREAT TECHNOLOGICAL LEAP!

BUT THE INDIAN RAILWAYS’ LOCO DRIVERS LIMP!!

Dear Comrades,                                                                                                                

From WP Coal locos to WAP 7/WAG 9 (AC) locos is indeed a great technological leap for the great Indian Railways that frequents National Geographic Channel repeatedly. But when you look at the working conditions and emoluments of the end users that is the Loco Pilots it is extremely depressing and frustrating. We, the Loco Pilots were born on 16th April 1853 when the first train chugged out from Bombay (present Mumbai-CST, for you and me) to Thane. That means 158 long years. We were repeatedly re-molded from coal to Diesel to AC traction. The transformation was not easy for the loco pilots due to the anti labour policies of Railway Board and the bureaucrats. We, the Loco Pilots of Indian Railways continue to suffer even as WE KEEP THE ‘WHELLS-OF-ECONOMY’ OF THE NATION ZIPPING. Time for us to put brakes and fight for our legitimate rights. This GB will be dedicated solely on this format. 

Therefore our 19th ALL INDIA CONFERENCE OF AILRSA AT BENGALURU during May 2012 is an historical event for the community of Loco Pilots of Indian Railways bound to bring unity and glorious future for them.

And the count down for the All India Biennial General Body Meeting (BGM) has begun with this communiqué. This is an historical event of a historical union-we call our union as a historical union because this union brought the Indian Railways to stand still in 1973 for two weeks which is unheard in the 157 years history of Indian Railways. A ‘Feat’ even recognized federations could not accomplish in their trumpeted decades of euphoria.   


On the contrary it is an unassailable fact that the great Indian Railways was born with a Driver and a First Firemen as the earlier mentioned first train rolled out from Bombay to Thane on 16th April 1853.Ever since for the past 158 years we have been the EARTH MOVERS OF GREAT INDIAN RAILWAYS. Unfortunately in the following years the working condition of Loco Running Staff did not improve as there are no stipulated working hours even after one and half century and destination to destination seems to be the norm.

Ever since 1960 there were several isolated struggles by Firemen’s Council and Driver’s Council at various places of Indian Railways. In 1970 the leaders of Indian Railways decided to form All India Loco Running Staff Association with its members from ‘2nd  Firemen to Mail Drivers’ and the first general body meeting was conducted at Vijayawada in 1970. AILRSA was first registered with head quarters at Arakonam (AJJ of SR); then at Trichy for two years; further at Anara for many years and now at Adra since last 3 years.

From 1970 till date AILRSA has successfully sailed through several ups and downs. After 1981strike the Association almost crumbled due to heavy victimization and it could not be vibrant till 1985 in many divisions of Indian Railways. From 1986 at many places AILRSA started rebuilding with the help of  new cadres (who) joined railway as Diesel Assistant/AC Assistant with the co-ordination of ‘AILRSA leaders serving/retired and out of service. After a long drawn judicial battle for 13 years, the honourable Supreme Court REINSTATED ALL THE VICTIMIZED RUNNING STAFF of 1981 strike WITH BACK WAGES AND PENSION which is unheard in the ‘NO-WORK-NO-PAY’ history of Indian Railways’ MANIPULATED TRADE UNION MOVEMNT.

Another history of AILRSA is that its 1973 strike for two weeks was an eye opener to Sri. George Fernandez, the then AIRF President who executed the historic 1974 general strike to challenge the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi who imposed emergency in 1975 taking advantage of the strike. The ‘Emergency Rule’ led to the crashing of Congress from power in 1980 elections and paved the way for first non congress Govt. in India. The decision of AILRSA by voting to join 1974 strike and the resultant larger share of victimization seeded dissidence among the AILRSA leaders. The misunderstanding came out in open after the debacle of 1981 strike true to the great saying-

“VICTORY HAS MANY FAHTERS BUT DEFEAT IS FATHERLESS.”

Anyway AILRSA was a tool to change the unchecked gallop of repeat congress rule in the centre after independence arising out of their 1974 strike and the emergency rule by Madam Indira Gandhi.

The AILRSA dissidents   functioned as parallel unions with out any co-ordination with central leadership from 1986 to 1994 in five divisions of Indian Railways including Bangalore Division. In 1994 the parallel AILRSA group formed IRLRO with its head quarters as Bangalore and few members who functioned with parallel AILRSA decided to align with the AILRSA central leadership and conducted a AILRSA divisional general body in 1994 at Bangalore and that AILRSA is going to host the All India BGM is a matter of history. In the last two decades of globalization all trade unions including AILRSA are facing a tough time but it should be noted that after the 1973 ‘Success-Strike’ of AILRSA, around 107 category unions came into existence  in Indian Railways picking up the thread from AILRSA. Perhaps today hardly 7 categorical unions are functioning which only emphasizes the relevance of AILRSA and its GB at Bangalore in May 2012.

Stephen Sherlock, the prominent ‘labour-research’ writer made a research on unforgettable Railway Strike 1974. His observations are as given below that speaks in volumes of AILRSA’s unchallengeable history in Indian Railways’ trade union movement.

“During the 1960s unrest grew amongst railway workers on the issue of low wages, harsh working conditions and long hours of work. The negative response from the management (various forms of repressive measures against labour militancy) and the inability of the two railway unions recognised by the Railway Board – All India Railway men's Federation (AIRF) and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) – to fight for their grievances and protect their interests generated a sense of frustration and alienation among workers. Recognised union leadership was increasingly perceived to be corrupt and prone to fall prey to material privileges due to their proximity with the railway management. There was a perception amongst the worker-activists that the Government, the railway management and the recognised unions were co-operating and working together to suppress and control the militant and independent activities of workers. Under these circumstances, a sense of collective and independent action to fight for their interests led to formation of independent, category-based unions like the Loco Running Staff Association…”

(The Indian Railway Strike of 1974: A Study of Power and Organised Labour, Stephen Sherlock, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2001.)
 
The observations made by Sri. Stephen Sherlock is still relevant. Even after the election of Trade unions through secret ballot in 2007, the recognized federations never changed their character and day by day the corruption is increasing in manifold.

The New Pension System was brought by NDA Govt in 29.10.2003. The then UPA I Govt decided to implement New Pension System to the employees who joined after 01.01.2004. The Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2005 but it was not cleared due to the resistance of Left Parties. UPA II Govt introduced pension bill in parliament on 24.03.2011. The shocking truth is that Sri Umraomol Purohit, the President of AIRF is one of the Trustees of NPS.  DREU has challenged NPS vide OA 575/2011 at honourable Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai. A favourable interim order was given by CAT.

Nairuthya Railway Employees Union(NREU), a sister organisation of DREU was registered and organized in SWR from 2008 under the guidance of AILRSA, which aspires to come out successful in the coming secret ballot with the support of like minded Associations and individuals who want to resist ‘BONDED LABOUR IN IR ‘ in connivance with present recognized federations.

AILRSA believes the need to fight for redressing the demands of Loco Running Staff in particular. We also recognize the need of united struggle along with other Railway Workers for the over all betterment of  the Railway men, and Join hands with the entire working class to fight against the Policies of the Government which will affect every worker including Running Staff.

AILRSA/SWR is hosting an All India Conference of AILRSA in BENGALURU for the first time in history.  The conference will discuss the future course of actions of the Association and will elect a new set of leadership to lead AILRSA. BE A PROUD PARTNER IN REWRITTING THE HISTORY OF RUNNING STAFF IN PARTICULAR AND BRETHERN RAILWAYMEN IN GENERAL. Participate in large number and make it a mega event.

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