Friday, October 11, 2013

  The Chairman,Railway Board,
 Rail Bhavan, New Delhi.
Respected Sir,

                              Sub: Views and Suggestions of AILRSA on the recommendation  of the High Power Committee to review the duty hours of    Running and other Safety related categories of staff.

      With utmost respect to your good office, we request that the views and suggestions expressed by us in this memorandum may be considered and consensus be arrived at before embarking upon the process of implementation that too in a time bound manner duly taking into confidence the stake holders viz. NFIR, AIRF, AILRSA and other unions.

      Mainly the committee deliberated upon and recommended on the following  issues of running staff.

1)Duty at a stretch

2)Maximum limit of Duty Hours in a fortnight

3)Stay away from Head Quarters

4)Limit of continuous night duties

5)Periodical Rest in a week/month

6)Rest at Head Quarters and Outstation

7)Duty hours, daily rest and periodical rest of suburban crew of Indian Railways

8)Condition of Loco cab, Running Rooms, Subsidised meals  etc.

      Many of the recommendations are appreciable but on duty hours, we are constrained to say that there were no attempt made to critically analyze the national and international laws  nor the present trend in the realm, the practical problem of the staff to live in the present pattern of work, especially of running staff, that are adopted in Indian Railways. The constraints expressed by the committee to take a just and liberal attitude in arriving at a reasonable upper limit of working hours at a stretch and the scale of rest, is solely on two counts viz. Non-filling up of sanctioned strength in running cadre and in the hypothesis of limited line capacity and nothing else.

      In our view these two impediments alone is not the cause, but the non seriousness of the Railway administration on these issues as well as inept functioning of the operating department at the different levels too.

      Whatever limit the higher authorities prescribe never get materialised. Whatever limit prescribed by the Railway Board, the accountability must be fixed upon someone, when variations takes place case by case on daily basis in divisional level. Non-accountability leads to vacuum.

      Here we would also like to submit that the vacancies which are almost about 30% on existing cadre strength can be immediately and easily filled up if so desired by the administration, and if so major part of problems related to duty hours can be overcome.

      Sir, we herewith express our strong reservations on the recommendations of duty hours at a stretch of different services and stay away from Head Quarters because of the fact that the High Power Committee simply ignored the following recommendations of various authorities. It is worth to mention a few.

a)     This committee has not given its recommendation based on job analysis of the running staff. It would have been appropriate on the part of High Power Committee to conduct job analysis in association with competent authority before coming to conclusion on HOER.

b)     The Parliamentary Standing  Committee of the 14th  Loksaba in its 5th report
on the safety and security of the Railways dated 21.09.2004 has laid specific emphasis and recommended that the hours of work of loco running staff at a stretch shall not exceed 8 hours.

c)      The decision of RLC, Chennai and rejection of appeal by the appellate authority on reclassification of loco pilots as Intensive has not been taken into consideration.

d)     Even the 6 hours duty suggestion advanced by the Railway administration on the minutes of SPAD dt.14.06.2012 also has not been considered, in its true prospect. It is the Railway officials who conducted the meeting, deliberated the matter in detail about the measures to be taken to bring down cases of SPAD on IR .But the High Power Committee has ignored their suggestion and recommended contrary to it on duty hours and limit of stay away from head quarters etc.

e)     The representations of AILRSA, AIRF, NFIR and other unions and Associations have also not been considered.

      Apart from this, this Association of workers along with other workers who are affiliated with the recognised federations NFIR and AIRF and other unions have serious exception on the recommendations especially on three areas:-

1.Duty at a stretch of Running Staff

2.Stay Away from Head Quarters of Running Staff.

3.Maximum limit of duty hours in a fortnight.

1.Duty at a stretch of Running Staff

      The gist of recommendation is “9 hours running duty extendable up to 2 hours plus 1 hour viz. 12hours from Signing On to Signing Off”.

      At the outset we point out that according to the statistics published by the committee in Annexure IV of the report clearly indicates that 84% Goods crew complete duty hours within 10 hours from Sign On to Sign Off on yearly basis. Out of that five railways Southern, Northern, North Eastern, South Western and North Western Railways have percentage between 88% and 93%. Only the Railways Eastern, East Central, South East Central and South Eastern Railway falls to 60%.

Over all in Indian Railways 84% crew completes their duty hours below 10 hrs from sign on to sign off.

      Such being the case pegging to the limit to 12 hours from sign on to sign off (9hrs running duty/11 hrs on to off +1hr) is unwarranted. Filling up of the sanctioned vacancies combined with close monitoring by the operating branch in the divisional level, fixing accountability at exact level alone will tone up the present percentage to 100%.

      At present the Railway servant (Hours of Work and Period of Rest) Rules 2005 is in force. The said Rule has the effect of superseding all the orders and rules which are inconsistent with it. In view of the present Rule, the position should stand as follows.

      Rule 8 of the above said Rule 2005 deals with the fixation of hours of work and it says that the hours of work of a railway servant as per roster (rostered hours of work) may be continuous or may have short intervals of rest or break due to exigency of service. Sub rule (1) of Rule 8 states that, subject to the limit specified in Section 132 and having regard to the requirement of the service and the nature of work the Railway administration shall fix the normal rostered hours of work for the various categories of Railway servant in the manner indicated in these rules.
In terms of Sub rule 9 of Rule 8, while preparing the rosters, “long on” or “short off “ shall accordingly be avoided. “Long on” is defined under Rule 2(c) to mean a period of duty over 8 hours in the case of intensive worker, over 10 hours in the case of continuous workers and over 12 hours in the case of Essentially Intermittent workers.

      If the Running staffs are to be classified as continuous under the hours of employment regulation, there should not be any “Long on” in their duty hour. That means no work more than 10 hours should be extracted from the running staff in any case. There is no distinction of duty hours as running duty or otherwise. Therefore duty hours from Sign On to Sign Off should not exceed 10 hours. The above is the legal position and no exemption is granted to the Railway Administration under the rules. Therefore the recommendation of the committee is not tenable under the rules.

      At present the loco running staffs are forced to work unlimited hours every day on one pretext or other. Even according to the instruction they are bound to work up to 13 hours from Sign on to Sign Off in normal circumstances.


      It is our firm opinion that the loco running staff including Motormen are entitled to be classified as "Intensive". Despite several request the management have not conducted a job analysis to determine whether a classification different from continuous is required or not. In this connection it is submitted that a factual job analysis was in fact conducted at the instance of Regional Labour Commissioner (Central), Chennai and the said statutory authority was pleased to  declare that the loco running staff are required to be classified as ‘Intensive’ by order bearing no. M.41/1/HOER/2011-B2 dated 26.12.2011. The management went on appeal before the appellate authority, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India. The appeal has been dismissed and upholds the order of RLC, Chennai declaring the loco running staff as “Intensive”. Therefore they must be classified as "Intensive" and duty hours more than 8 hours should not be extracted in terms of Sub rule no.9 of Rule no.8 of Railway Servant (Hours of Work and Periods of Rest) Rules 2005 as ‘Long on’ as defined under Rule 2(C) for Intensive workers . Therefore the recommendation is untenable and liable to be modified as suggested.

      In this connection it is also to be added that the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the 14th Loksabha in its 5th report on the safety and security of the Railways dated 21.09.2004 has laid specific emphasis and recommended that the hours of work of loco running staff at a stretch shall not exceed 8 hours from Sign On to Sign Off. It may be noticed that the HOER 2005 was framed thereafter.
Therefore in this account too the recommendation of the committee to be modified as suggested and duty hours may be fixed for running staff irrespective of the grade, at the maximum of 8 hours from Signing ON to Signing OFF reclassifying them as "Intensive".

      The second issue on which we have serious exception is Stay away from Head Quarters.

2.Stay away from Head Quarters

      In this regard the committee has recommended as follows “ The limit of stay away from Head Quarter for running staff shall be fixed at 72 hours. It should be further brought down to 48 hours in tandem with vision 2020”. In this connection the entire workmen affiliated to both recognised unions viz. NFIR and AIRF and AILRSA including all other unions vehemently demanded that the stay away from Head Quarters of running staff should be brought down to 36 hours, detailing the necessity of running staff to have a family and social life. That has been mercilessly rejected without any valid reason except stating that non-filling up of the sanctioned vacancies and hypothesis of line capacity and nothing else.

      It may be noted that on sustained demand from the staff side for years together the Railway Board vide Letter no. E(LL)2009/HER/1 dated 26.02 2010 decide that running staff should be brought back to their Head Quarters within 36 hours and ask the Railways to strictly monitor its implementation. In this connection we earnestly point out that the statistics published by this committee as Annexure V under heading ‘statement of stay away from Head Quarters’ shows that an average of 80% to 96%  of goods crew and almost  all  Mail/ Express/ Passenger/EMU train crew are returning to Head Quarters in less than 36 hours. Such being the case, general rule limiting  stay away from Head Quarters can be prescribed as 36 hours for running staff in the present situation itself.

      It may please be noted that at present 100% of Mail/ Express /Passenger and Motorman are coming back to their Head Quarters within 36 hours. Such being the position prescribing 72 hours stay away from Head Quarters for running staff generally is unwarranted. Whatever achieved so far should be retained. It should be extended to Goods crew also.

      Therefore the recommendation of the committee should be reconsidered and fixed the upper limit as 36 hours for stay away from Head Quarters with some exceptions in exigencies of service in relation to goods crew if so required.

3.Maximum limit of duty hours in a fortnight.

      Further we have strong reservation on the recommendation of maximum limit of duty hours in a fortnight as 125 hours. This should be modified in line with statutory limit prescribed in the HOER 2005, with a maximum limit not exceeding 100 hours in a fortnight as done in Civil Aviation sector, in the interest of safety.
While we appreciate the recommendation of 16 hours of home station rest and 8 hours of outstation rest but we are in disagreement with the recommendation of the committee that the calling time is within this 16 hours and 8 hours of rest. It would have been better in view  of safe operation of train the crew is not disturbed within this 16 hours and 8 hours of rest in tandem with SPAD minutes dt. 14.06.2012.

      It is our bitter experience that whatever recommendations submitted to the Railway Board for the welfare of the staff are invariably kept in cold storage without taking any decision. We hope at least these recommendations should not have the same fate and the recommendations with appropriate modifications as suggested by us and desired by the both the recognized unions NFIR and AIRF, should be  implemented within a definite time frame duly taking  into  confidence all the stake holders. We hope and trust that our views as above arising out of our experience and hardships faced, would be looked into with an open mind, and appropriate modifications made, when final decision is taken by the Railway Board

      We assure you of our co-operation to maintain efficiency and speed in our Railways.


          With regards,  

                                                                                                                  Date.10.10.13                              Yours Sincerely

                                                                                                               Secretary General


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