Wednesday, January 9, 2013

      The Convener
Uniform Committee,
      Executive Director Establishment (G),  
      Railway Board, Rail Bhavan, New Delhi.

Respected Sir,

        REF  :    RB LETTER NO. E (W) 2010/UN-1/10 DATED 18.09.12 AND LETTER. NO. 2009/UN-1-6/DATED 04.09.12
          This association wishes to submit the following views/suggestions for the fool proof system of supply of good quality/ dignified uniforms to loco running staff of Indian Railways. At present the loco pilots and assistant loco pilots are being supplied with uniform cloth for stitching two pairs of pant/shirt with Rs.130/60 as stitching charge once in a period of two years.  The cloths supplied are of such inferior quality that they start fading within six months of use.  This association( in SR) has already tested this quality of uniform cloth at textile laboratory and found that of substandard quality.  Even though the minimum commercial rate for stitching a Pants/Shirt is Rs. 400/200, a paltry sum of Rs.130/60 only is being reimbursed by the railways now.
          As the work of a loco pilot and assistant loco pilot involves outdoor activities also like checking of locomotives and wagons, only one pair of Pant/Shirt can be worn for a trip and for the second and third trip (in a spell of 72 hours according to existing railway HOER rules), three pairs of Pants and Shirts are required due to sweating (most parts of India experience tropical weather) . On arrival at home station these three sets of used uniforms will have to be washed, dried and ironed and the staff prepared to join the next duty within the 12/16 hours of headquarters rest. While reporting for the next duty they must come prepared for another 72 hours spell of duty with three pairs of fresh uniforms.  So to wear uniform daily, a minimum six pairs of uniforms are required, but now only two pairs are supplied every two years which is insufficient.
          Of late when the railway management raises the slogan of downsizing, right sizing to reduce expenditure, holding back the system of supplying uniform clothes alone by inviting tenders & purchasing in zonal level, distributing in divisional level and depot level and maintaining records for that appears to have a vested interest behind it.  Even the battery cells are paid as cell allowance since a long time while uniforms cost are not paid as allowance raises doubts in ones mind on the question of kick backs behind the purchase, particularly when the quality of cloth are inferior routinely. Hence this association demands the administration to pay uniform allowance every two years for six set of pants and shirts with cost of branded company cloth for the standard measurement of pant piece and shirt piece allowing current market stitching charges on an average on par with staff nurse and RPF.
          The demand for grant of uniform allowance was upheld by the Honourable Court.  The denial of uniform allowance for station masters on par with nursing staff was raised before the Hon.CAT/MAS and while delivering the judgment in OA 633 of 1998, OA 832 of 2004 and OA 1049 of 2004 observed as under.
          “..... irrespective of the categories those who wear uniform, it is the duty of the employer to provide washing allowance along with uniform allowance.  It is not the mistake of the applicants for not enacting the rule or provision in respect of washing allowance to the public image category......”
          “....when there is no provision in Indian railways establishment manual, the first respondent has either to frame the rules or have to comply with the directions of this tribunal .....” and “....... this Hon. Tribunal has held that the direction of this tribunal was to provide washing allowance and uniform allowance by considering the representation and the respondents didn’t satisfy the test of reasonableness .......”
          Thus it is seen that the issue pertaining to the grant of uniform allowance and washing allowance to certain categories of staff members have already been dealt with elaborately by the tribunal on earlier occasions and the tribunal also directed the respondents to draw a uniform policy for grant of uniform allowance and washing allowance to certain categories of employees working in railways”.
           “....... Hence in our opinion the present applicant has made out his case for consideration and accordingly we direct the respondents to take into account the directions rendered in the earlier OA’s by the tribunal and pass orders ...”  “... the respondents have not complied with the said direction in OA633 of 1998 and thus have rejected the representation by passing an order dated 25/7/2000 when there is no provision under IREM the first respondent has to either frame the rules or has to comply with the directions of this tribunal”.  “........ irrespective of the categories those who wear uniform  it is the duty of the employer to provide washing allowance along with uniform allowance.  It is not the mistake of the applicants for not enacting the rule or provision in respect of washing allowance to the public image category..........”
          Hence the need for providing uniform allowance and washing allowance to the front line staff on par with nursing staff is already dealt with in detail by Hon CAT/MAS and was admitted in all the cases.  As such, the issue for seeking grant of uniform allowance has been vindicated by the judicial forum which proves that the demand is justified.  The demand for uniform allowance is thus not only simple and reasonable but also based on valid  legal grounds.
          In the light of the above stated facts, this association demands to pay uniform allowance  as in the case of the nursing staff in railways and as recommended by the pay commission by paying Rs. 9000 once in two years including stitching charge.
PATTERN  : The Navy blue pants and sky blue shirts prescribed as uniform for loco running staff may be continued.
QUANTUM : The present 2 set pant/shirt cannot be worn on daily basis with the 72/96 hrs out station detention rule of HOER.  It is pertinent to note that the dress which is worn for 13 hours every day for 6 days a week will definitely not even last 2 years.  Hence it needs to be modified to 6 pairs of pant/shirt every 2 years.
          Supply of uniforms in stitched form to one group, as cloth and stitching charges to another and as uniform allowance to a third group, all employees in the same organisation for the purpose of law, is discriminatory and violates  article 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution.
          The plea of the railway administration was that the GMs were not empowered to change the mode of supply and the railway board was not in favour of a change in the mode of supply.  In terms of railway board orders in No. E(w) 82 UNI-2 the GMs are entrusted with the power to change the mode of supply.  Since the GMs are authorized to change the mode of supply in a particular case, this plea also has lost ground.
          It should be ensured that no other railway staff or railway contract staff in the vicinity of railway premises like stations, trains etc. wears navy blue pants or sky blue shirts or a combination with other colour pants/ shirts as it will confuse our identity.  If the committee compares the railways present process of procurement and distribution at three stages, paying uniform allowance through salary will be the best and economical one.  Last of all we reiterate our demand that we the loco running staff and other front line staff, be treated equally without disparity with similar situated employees and the uniform allowance including stitching charges and washing allowance be paid through salary bill once in two years.

Thanking you,
Bangalore                                                                                 Yours Sincerely
                                                                                                 (C. Sunish)  
Copy : Member Uniform Committee, Ex. Dir Finance (s)
           Member Uniform Committee, Ex. Dir. Stores (G)                      
                                                                                             Minister of Railway


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