Friday, May 17, 2013

Loco pilots go on strike, demand proper facilities

MADURAI: Loco pilots, affiliated to an employee union staged a flash strike for two hours in the Madurai division on Thursday protesting the alleged ill-treatment meted out to one of their counterparts.
They also sought the railway authorities not to allow them overtime as it is leading to health complications in many.
According to Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) sources, S K Varadarajan, one of the assistant loco pilots of a goods train was forced to work non-stop for more than 10 hours. He has been working from May 14, operating goods trains between Madurai - Karur, Karur - Trichy and Trichy - Madurai. On Thursday, he had started from Trichy by 3am and reached Madurai Kudal Nagar goods shed at 12.30pm. However, he was asked to operate another train from Kudal Nagar to Dindigul and later towards Trichy.

"Varadarajan protested this and since he had worked more than nine hours, he agreed to operate the train till Dindigul. But the railway officials shifted him to the railway hospital stating that he is sick. Hence, 22 loco pilots of our union went reporting sick en mass," said V Ram Kumar, working committee member of SRMU.

SRMU claimed that nearly four trains were affected by their flash strike. The Rameswaram - Trichy passenger was stranded in Mandapam for one hour, Okha - Rameswaram Express was stopped at Dindigul and the Rameswaram - Tirupathi Express was halted at Rameswaram itself.

Additional divisional railway manager, V Ajithkumar held talks with the representatives of SRMU and the strike was withdrawn after he called for a special meeting to redress their grievances.

Ajithkumar ruled out the claim of the employee union that many trains were affected by their strike. "Only one train was affected and we have called for a special meeting by next week to discuss their grievances," he said.

Ram Kumar said that the loco pilots are forced to work overtime due to vacancies in the category. "Many of the loco pilots suffer with various health ailments like urinary complaints, diabetes and high blood pressure since they can't have their food in time. There is no toilet facility in locomotives and the running staff, have to control their bowl movements for operation of the trains," he pointed out. "There is a special allowance for overtime and many are lured by this. But considering the safety of the thousands of passengers, the loco pilots should not be allowed overtime even if they are willing to work," he stressed.


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