Monday, September 9, 2013

Comments about the Report of High Power Committee on HOER:
Hours of Employment Regulations was stipulated by British colonialists to suit the conditions in the year 1931. Even after a lapse of 82 years Indian Railways does not wants to change the entire structure. They are still continued to REPAINT the old dilapidated structure instead of making a new HOER. It is like making up for and aged Auntie with Chudidar and lipstick.

     The duty hours, rest period, etc. is dealt with under the Hours of Employment Regulation in the Railways. The same is applicable for Loco Running Staff, but basing on some subsidiary rules incorporated by the Railways, the duty hours, rest etc. has been prescribed quite differently to others. In the Hours Of Employment Regulations (HOER) there is no upper limit prescribed for daily duty hours, in the hope the management will not exploit and force the workers to perform beyond certain extend. The factory Act, Plantation Workers Act and in most of such Acts there is a prescribed daily limit of work varying from 8 to 9 hours with a break of half an hour to one hour. But such provision not had been in HOER of the Railways. But a limit of duty hours prescribed for a fortnight at 96 hours/104 hours. Taking this lacuna in the Act, they regularly extract work for 14 hours to 20 hours at a stretch from Loco Running Staff. The Periodical Rest (Weekly Rest ) for all other workers ranging from 42 hours to 54 hours, but in the case of Loco Running Staff it was prescribed to 22 hours or 30 hours that too not weekly, but monthly basis. To extract the fortnightly limit of duty hours of 96 hours and 104 hours, the Loco Running Staff are subjected to be in duty in all the 365 days of the year. It may be seen as violation of Human Rights.

        It may be noted that prescribing duty hours, rest, etc. is the prerogative of the Ministry of Labour. No management either in private or the State have any right to prescribe Hours of Employment to its workers. Though the HOER is promulgated by the Ministry of Labour, changes were made by the Railway Board without the concurrence of Ministry of Labour and they exploit the Staff. Allowing unfettered power to the management to make rule in regard to Hours of Employment will give amble room to exploit the worker and drive them to the status of slaves. Therefore the Authority to make rule were entrusted with the Ministry of Labour. This cardinal rule has been neglected and the Railway Board plays havoc in the life of innocent workers and Ministry of Labour   were made mere spectator. In-addition, the Railway has gone in a vast technological change for which the concentration of mind of a Loco Running Staff has been increased many fold. This present HOER is framed some 80 Yrs back when the average speed of a Goods Train is 30/35 KMPH, load of train (Goods) was 1800T, average speed of a coaching train was 40/45 KMPH, load was for 12/14 bogies but now the average speed of goods train is 50/55 KMPH, for Mail/Exp goes up to 75KMPH, load of goods trains, goes up to 5000T and for coaching to 24/26 Bogies. In one spell of duty about 400 to 425 Signal posts have to be confronted. A Signal post is to be passed now each after 2/3 minutes not like past days when a Signal Post was to be confronted each and after 10/12 Minutes.                                                                                                                         

        Taking all these into consideration and the sufferings of the workers the Union placed the demand to review the Hours of Employment Regulations of Railways employees by a judicial review committee. The matter came before the National Council of JCM and the JCM came to an agreement on the matter on 14-02-2006 that the Hours of Employment Regulations for the Railway will be reviewed by a Judicial Committee, but nothing is done so far.       Years were passed, the delay to implement the JCM agreement, gave enough time to Railway Board to manipulate. The Railway Board proposed for an in-house committee, under the chairmanship of Sri DP Thripathi on 25.05.2011. This committee is submitted their report in August 2013.

1973 Strike of AILRSA:
        Besides, we wish to point out that on 14-08-1973 then Minister of Labour after arriving an agreement with agitating Loco Running Staff assured in the floor of parliament that “the Loco Running Staff need not work more than 10 hours from signing on to signing off at stretch”. This is an assurance from the Government of India that should be honored and implemented. Accordingly orders were issued by the Ministry of Railways on 31-08-1978 restricting the duty hours to 10 hours from signing on to signing off for Loco Running Staff. But in 1992 the Railway Board, disregarding the assurance given by the Parliament, ordered and imposed the duty hours to 13 hours for Loco Running Staff misrepresenting a Ernakulam CAT’s order on the issue thus results mockery of Parliamentary democracy. It is therefore demanded to review the HOER by a judiciary Review Committee to have a safe, operation in the Railway.
Parliamentary Standing Committee Report:
In 22.12.2004 Parliamentary Standing committee on Railways headed by Sri Basudeb Acharia recommended 8 hours of duty to Loco Pilots.( Para 4.. The Committee, therefore, recommend that the ten hour daily roster system may be reviewed in view of the present scenario of train speed levels, number of signals, load and whistle boards etc. They emphasise that it may be ensured that the running staff may not be put on duty for not more than 8 hours as continuous concentration is required by the drivers and a slight deviation, stress or fatigue could lead to a major disaster.)
But Railways not considered these recommendations.
SPAD meeting suggestions (SPAD: Signal Passing At Danger )

In the wake of recent increased trend of accidents ,including Humpi Express accident at Penukonda;  recommendations from different safety committees(Dr.Anil Kakodkar), and also due to the sustained demand and agitations by the All India Loco running Staff Association(AILRSA) for improving safety measures, Railway Board has conducted a meeting at New Delhi on 12.06.12. The meeting was attended by Chief Mechanical Engineers of All Zonal Railways and one Mechanical Loco Inspectors from each Division, and addressed by Sri. Vinay Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board,Sri. Keshav Chandra, Member Mechanical Railway Board. After detailed discussions and deliberations they brought some important suggestions to be implemented by Zonal Railways.
Brief of the recommendations:
1. Cab Ergonomics:
a) Engine cabins should be made sound proof and Air-conditioned.
b) Uniform location for driving and braking equipments.
c) Good quality back rest seats for Loco Pilots
2) Rest: Calendar day rest to be given instead of present 22/30 hours rest to meet family and social obligations.
3) Working Hours:
a) Longer hours to be minimized.( Presently Loco Pilot  Goods are being utilized for 13 hours and above in many cases)
b) Reduce continuous night duties to 2/3( As per extant rule 6 continuous night is permitted)
d) Rest at head quarters and out station to be liberalized.
e) Maximum duty for Mail/Express Loco Pilots to be reduced to 6 hours.( presently it is around 10hrs)
4) Indenting of staff to be 2.5 times of the vacancy( Presently around 25-30% vacancies existing)
5) Loco Pilots should be provided protection from being arrested in case of accidents.

But unfortunately this suggestions also biting dust in Railway Board.
AILRSA Madurai division represented to Regional Labour Commissioner challenging the classification.
“The respondent is directed to reclassify the working hours of the Loco Pilots operating the Passenger Trains from “ Continuous “ to “ Intensive” from the date of job analysis conducted by LEO Madurai ie 11.12.2009. Hence appeal is disposed off allowing the claim of Appellant.”
Signed by Sri MM. Jagannatha Rao, RLC( C) and Appellate Authority under Railway Servants Hours of Work and Period of Rest Rules 2005.
After 6th Central pay commission a number of anomalies were done to the category of Loco Pilots. AILRSA waged many agitations against these issues along with the demand of Revision of HOER. Ministry of Labour intervened an a number of conciliation talks were initiated but unfortunately due to the uncared attitude of Railway management conciliation failed and later Ministry of Labour directed the issue to National Industrial Tribunal, Mumbai. The hearing is continuing. 

The High Power Committee on HOER is slightly modified the present working hours, they did not go to the key issues. We need a judicial review for proper settlement of problems. We expect that the NIT may order for the judicial review.
The High Power Committee on HOER recommendations in brief:
1.   The duty at a stretch should not exceed 11 hrs( Now it is 13 hrs)
2.   Running duty should not exceed 9 hrs + 2 hrs extension
3.   Extension for 1 hour ( Total 12 hrs)
4.   Duty hours will bring to 10 hrs by 2020
5.   Mail/Express Loco Pilots duty hrs should not exceed 8 hrs ( Now it is up to 9 hrs)
6.    In case of emergencies staff to work beyond stipulated period.
7.   For Superfast trains not having stoppage for 4 hrs, Assistant LP will be replaced by LP Mail ( In our division almost all trains will have a stop)
8.   Classification as per HOER is Continuous ( RLC Chennai recommended to classify as intensive with 6 hrs duty)
9.   Signal Passing cases should be reviewed to avoid removal from service
10.                Statutory hrs will be 104 hrs ( now also 104 hrs )
11.                Maximum limit is fixed as 125 hrs in a fortnight. may reduced to 115 hrs by 2020
12.                Out station detention shall be limited to 72 hrs, brought to 48 by 2020.( Same as now)
13.                Continuous night duty limited to 2 and 3 night with some conditions.
14.                Definition of night will be from 22 hrs to 6 hrs, but for calculating Night Duty Allowance OO hrs to 6 hrs only count( presently 22 hrs to 6 hrs will count)
15.                Head Quarter rest is stipulated to 16 hrs irrespective of working hrs( presently it is 16 hrs for working of 8 hrs and above, below 8 hrs 12 hrs )
16.                Out Station rest is stipulated to 8 hrs irrespective of working hrs( Presently it is 8 hrs for a working of 8 hrs and above and equal hrs for less than 8 hrs)
17.                Call notice is a part of rest period ( presently many places it is excluding the rest period)
18.                Periodic Rest should be 40 hrs and monthly 4.The gap between two rests should not exceed 10 days( presently it is 30 hrsx 4)
19.                Suburban EMU trains Guard may be replaced by Motorman.
20.                Running staff reviews to be conducted by Zonal Railways every year.
21.                RRB to be advised to prepare  panel to the extant of 100 %
AILRSA is waiting for the NIT to give his verdict on HOER and other matters. After that AILRSA will wage agitation for implementing the RLC/MAS judgement for Intensive classification.  
C. Sunish, General Secretary, AILRSA, South Western Railway.


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