Wednesday, November 5, 2014

           MK Shaji, General Secretary, AILRSA, SCR.
Dear Locomen,
            This is probably one of the last chances for us, my dear loco running brother, to get up from the slumber and act.  The much awaited VII CPC was constituted and AILRSA has submitted a detailed memorandum to it, followed by a short interview in Bangalore. 
The recognized trade unions viz., NFIR & AIRF also submitted their views.  After going through its contents, now the loco running staff wish it would have been much better had they not submitted any memorandum to the VII CPC at all.  Such is the extent of damage NFIR & AIRF had done to Loco Running Staff.  The demands of trade unions may not normally get accepted as-it-is at the hands of the CPC.   But a trade union should atleast know what to demand.  Otherwise they are deemed as a failure.  Time and again, CPCs after CPCs, the AIRF & NFIR have consistently proved that they do not even know what to demand and they care a damn for loco running staff.  Let us now understand what is in store for us if the VII CPC accepts the demands of AIRF & NFIR. 

              Both AIRF & NFIR demanded GP of Rs.2800 for Assistant Loco Pilots, which they sought for other categories of the matriculates/ITI certificate holders.  Here the job attributes and other aspects such as highest medical classification and continuance in that category till retirement etc. were ignored.  AIRF quoted Sr.ALP as next promotion to ALPs, thus misleading the 7th CPC that the upgraded post as a promotional post. Unfortunately they do not even understand the difference between upgradation and promotion. NFIR demanded diploma as basic educational qualification for ALPs but failed to demand GP/Scale accordingly.   For JEs, who have a basic educational qualification of diploma, NFIR demanded an enhanced scale of Rs.74000 which is equivalent to a GP of Rs.4800.  In other words NFIR felt that running staff need to be paid 60% less than others.  Moral- The principal of “EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL QUALIFICATION” is not for ALPs.
 Loco Pilot (Shunting) is a functional and promotional post.  But federations now merged it with ALP and both Federations demanded the scale of Rs.46000 which equates to present GP of Rs.2800.  Thus there is a risk of abolition of Shunter category in the future.  At the same time various posts, such as Tech.II, ESM-II, Sr.TTE/TTE etc. which are already equal to LP(Shunting) with a present GP of Rs.2400 have been demanded for elevation to the GP of Rs.4200, discriminating LP(Shunting) in whose case the Federations have demanded a GP of only Rs.2800.
            For Loco Pilot (Goods) the Federations demanded mere replacement scale equal to a GP of Rs.4200 whereas for many other categories (such as JE/Master Technician, Chief Telephone Operator, Master Cook, Head Ticket Examiner, Dy. Station Manager who are also presently in the GP of Rs.4200) they demanded enhanced scales (i.e., Rs.74000) equivalent to the GP of Rs.4800.  An entry grade Assistant Station Master who is currently in a GP of Rs.2800 also has been put up for a hike to the GP of Rs.4200, in which GP even a LP (M&E) is presently placed.  Even after issuance of corrigendum by the Federations, the above position remains same.
            In the case of a Motorman / Loco Pilot (Pass.) the Federations have demanded the scale of Rs.65000/-, which is less by Rs.1000 than the normal replacement scale Rs.66000 for a GP of Rs.4600.   Instead of asking for an enhanced scale of GP Rs.4600, they opted to suppress the Loco Pilot (Pass.) category by Rs.1000 by creating an additional scale of pay.  The justification given by the AIRF is that “As an exceptional case, an additional scale of pay is proposed to the category of Running Staff, in view of promotion, which involves selection, training and handling passenger carrying trains.  In the case of Motorman, the staff has to pass Aptitude/Psycho test also”.  The verbatim used by the NFIR for such a suppression is also almost the same! (Copy Cats!  When they do not know what to demand for loco running staff, they could have very well copied AILRSA memorandum to the VII CPC).  For such an important category they opted to compliment with a cut of Rs.1000!
            In the case of LP (M&E), the NFIR had remarked that the Railways had agreed to give a GP of Rs.4600, but the Ministry of Finance have not yet approved.  While things stand so, the NFIR failed to demand enhanced scale of Rs.78000 (equivalent to GP of Rs.5400) which they demanded for other categories who are presently in a GP of Rs.4600. 
            AIRF/NFIR Demand before the Departmental Anomaly Committee(DAC) & 7th CPC
AIRF/NFIR demand before the DAC
Present demand before the 7th CPC
Loco Pilot (Goods)
Grade Pay Rs.4600
 (equal to Rs.4200)
One stage below DAC demand
Loco Pilot (Pass)/Motorman
Grade Pay Rs.4800
 (Less than Rs.4600)
One stage +Rs.1000
Less than DAC demand
Loco Pilot (Mail)
Grade Pay Rs.5400
 (equal to Rs.4800)
One stage below DAC demand

Most condemnably, both the Federations, deliberately scaled down their own demand placed before the Departmental Anomaly Committee (DAC).  It is to be taken note that they demanded a GP of Rs.4600, 4800 and 5400 for LP(Goods), LP(Pass.) and LP(M&E) respectively before the DAC.  In an orchestrated attempt to let down the loco running staff, both the Federations had demanded for a GP of Rs.4200, less than 4600 (since the proposed additional scale beginning with Rs.65000 is less by Rs.1000) and 4800 for LP(Goods), LP(Pass.) and LP(M&E) respectively. Had the Federations not demanded GP of Rs.4600, 4800 and 5400 for LP(Goods), LP(Pass.) and LP(M&E) respectively before the DAC, we could have considered the present reduced pay proposal before the VII CPC as a slip/error.  But having demanded the above GPs before the DAC, it is abundantly clear that the Federations are out to cut our pay packet intentionally and accordingly scaled down their pay proposals placed before the VII CPC.
            The NFIR wholly left the issue of running allowance to the wisdom of Railway administration, whereas the AIRF demanded it to be decided by bilateral agreement between the Railways and Federations.  Those who are not required to drive locomotives, but remain present in the cab have been projected to get a higher additional allowance of Rs.2000/2500.
            As the loco running staff got a shock from the Federations, staff spontaneously came out in open challenging the wrong pay proposals of the Federations.  Left with no other option, both the Federations hurried into a damage control effort by sending a corrigendum to the Pay Commission.  While nobody knows whether it really reached O/O the Pay Commission, it is suggestive that both the Federations had issued a corrigendum on the same date i.e., 08th September 2014! Unity in Diversity (read as Unity in fooling)! Believe it or not, crux of both the Federations corrigendum is also the same!! (wah re wah!).  Now let us see what the Federations demanded in their corrigendum dated 08-09-2014.  The worst hit category of Assistant Loco Pilot again got a raw deal from both the Federations and they opted not to demand any suitable enhanced GP/Scale for them in the corrigendum as well.  For both, Shunter and Senior Shunter, the Federations have now sought a revised pay scale of Rs.56000 (equivalent to GP Rs.4200). Upgraded post of Senior Shunter thus stands happily surrendered by both Federations.  For all Loco Pilots i.e, Goods, Passenger and Mail & Express, the Federations demanded an enhanced scale of Rs.74,000 (which corresponds to GP of Rs.4800).  One may wonder why one Loco Pilot (Goods) should take up further promotion if there is no higher scale is in the offing.  Some LP(Goods) are wise enough to decline promotion and officiate in higher grade to draw officiating allowance, which is financially better than effecting a promotion.  One of the main heartburn for the loco running staff since 6th CPC was that all the LPs were put in the same scale/GP, though the post of LP(Pass.) and LP(M&E) are considered to be promotions.  Though the Federations remarked loco running staff as “frontline staff of the Indian Railways” a back seat proposal was prepared even in the corrigendum by the Federations, which shows their deliberate onslaught on loco running men.
            Let us examine why the recognized Federations adopted a stand of betrayal of loco running staff.  To understand this aspect we need to have a look at the history.  Your kind attention is drawn to the book named “THE INDIAN RAILWAYS STRIKE OF 1974 - A Study of Power and Organised Labourauthored by Mr Stephen Sherlock, which was originally a doctoral thesis for the University of Sydney.  This book was prepared primarily based on Trade Union Publications, Pamphlets, Conference Papers, other publications, Party Publications, Government Publications, Private Papers, Newspapers and Newsmagazines, interviews (which included leaders of NFIR & AIRF as well), other primary sources and secondary sources. The Bibliography alone runs into 23 pages!  One will find reliance to them aplenty in almost every page in the 475 pages lengthy book content. 
Excerpts from
“THE INDIAN RAILWAYS STRIKE OF 1974   -A Study of Power and Organised Labour”
Pages 42-43:-  “The watershed in relations between the Railway Board and the AIRF was the 1930 strike in the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.  The strike was called by the Great Indian Peninsular Railwaymen’s Union, the most communist-influenced of the unions affiliated to the AIRF.  The Railway dismissed a large number of workers, singling out communist supporters, and began negotiations with the conservative sections of the AIRF.  The AIRF reached an agreement to end the strike under which some, but not all, of the dismissed workers were to be reinstated.  When the Railway violated the terms of the agreement, the communists attempted to continue the strike but were defeated by heavy repression, including the killing of two workers in police firings.  The communists’ position in the AIRF was severely weakened.  The Federation was granted official recognition by the Railway Board in return for its assistance in ending the strike”.
Pages 43-44:-  “…The NFIR was established in 1948 by Indian National Congress leaders…..The truth is probably that although some sections of management were not keen on facilitating the establishment of a second federation, the Railway Board could not resist the weight of persistent Congress pressure.  The issue was decided in 1949 when the NFIR supported the management during a strike called by the AIRF.  The NFIR was recognised soon after….”
Page 50:- “The recognized unions were made avenues of corruption by their leaders’ practices.  Having eschewed the tradition of collective action, they turned to taking up the grievances of individual workers on petition.  It was not long before money was often demanded for the service.  The unions became the means through which a worker could obtain a promotion, a transfer or a favourable hearing in disciplinary proceedings – so long as sufficient money changed hands.  The recognized unions became known as “trading unions” “.
Eschew=To keep away from ; shun.
Page 53:-  “The principal means by which the recognized unions communicated with management at the various levels was through bodies called the Permanent Negotiating Machinery and the Joint Consultative Machinery.  The Permanent Negotiating Machinery was established in 1952 “for maintaining contact with labour and resolving disputes and differences which may arise between them and the Administration”.  In fact, it was not designed to maintain but to minimise “contact with labour” by declaring certain specified organizations to the labour’s official and only voice……..In 1966 the government also set up the Joint Consultative Machinery for all government departments and departmental undertakings……..”
Page 55:- “Institutions such as the Permanent Negotiating Machinery, the Joint Consultative Machinery and officially recognised unions had the effect of bureaucratizing management-labour interaction.  Negotiations were taken from the hands of rank and file workers and placed in the care of a professionalised trade union leadership……… the union leaders were full-time functionaries separated from the daily experience of the railway workers themselves.  The bureaucratized union leadership had a vested interest in the stability and permanence of the institutions which underpinned its position and influence.  It was forced to moderate the intensity of workers’ demands to the level which was acceptable to management.  If the union leadership failed to do so it would find itself derecognised and outside the system upon which it depended….”
*WITH REGARD TO THE STRIKE BEGUN ON  25-07-1967 & 05-07-1968
Pages 58-65:-  Hawkers of coconuts and peanuts who clustered around railway stations were brought in to be used as second firemen and coal khalasis and casual railway labourers were employed as first firemen….The Firemen’s Council refused to call for a return to work until it had received an assurance, directly from the Railway Minister or from the General Manager of the Southern Railway, that there would be no victimization.  Only when the assurance was received, two days later, did the Council tell its supporters to go back to work.  The Firemen’s Council took special note of the fact that the Railway Minister had also given an assurance from the floor of the parliament……The Firemen’s Council had established itself as a new, militant pole of attraction in the railway workers’ movement……During the mass sick leave agitation a number of Council leaders had published a pamphlet revealing that railway passengers’ safety had been put at risk through the use of unqualified people to operate locomotives.  On the grounds that they had revealed government secrets to the public, the Trichy Divisional Secretary and President of the Firemen’s Council were dismissed from railway service.  During the subsequent twelve months about ten other firemen’s leaders were victimised on various pretexts for their activities in the Council.  Two hundred firemen from Trichy were penalised………The strategy was to harass Firemen’s Council leaders to prevent the union functioning on a day-to-day basis and to penalise rank and file firemen who might participate in its campaigns……..After futile attempts to appeal directly to both the Railway Minister and the Deputy Railway Minister, the Firemen’s Council launched another agitation on 5 July 1968…….A Railway spokesman told press that 2,500 of the 3,000 firemen in the affected Southern Railway divisions were absent and 1,300 of the 1,700 in the South Central Railway divisions.  Management first enlisted the support of the recognised unions to attempt to persuade the firemen to give up the strike…………Fearing a deepening confrontation the politicians once again intervened.  The Chief Ministers of the four states concerned, Tamil Nadu, Mysore, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, were in Delhi for a meeting at the time.  They met together and deputed the Kerala Chief Minister, E.M.S.Namboodiripad, to meet with the Prime Minister and urge her to intervene to bring about a settlement.  Indira Gandhi promised to “look into the demands”.  The Minister of State for Railways, Parimal Ghosh, had already suggested that the government might agree in principle to the firemen’s main demand of a reduction of maximum working hours to twelve per day if there was an immediate return to work.  However, at a meeting with the two recognised unions, Ghosh drew up an agreement limiting the firemen’s maximum hours of work to fourteen………… The Railway Minster promised not to victimise participants and personally to take up the cases of Council leaders who had been victimised as a result of previous union activities.  The agitation was called off on 18 July……………The two strikes demonstrated that the Firemen’s Council, and not the recognised unions, was the organization to which the workers in that particular category looked for leadership.  The Firemen’s Council had grown in strength during the year between the two strikes…….The much greater impact of the 1968 campaign was evidenced by the fact that it forced not only the Railway Minister, but also four Chief Ministers and Prime Minister to take action.  The strength of Firemen’s Council lay in its closeness to rank and file workers.  It was built and led by rail workers and was organized from the shopfloor…….The leaders of the recognised unions were regarded as corrupt and self-seeking.  The leaders of the Firemen’s Council, in contrast, gained nothing for their work in the union except victimization from management.  During the period under discussion, many Council leaders were suspended from work for longer periods than they had worked.  The Firemen’s Council was an attempt to build a union run directly by rank and file workers rather than by professional intermediaries.
Pages 66-67:-  “The pattern of events in the strikes of 1967 and 1968 was revealingly similar.  On both occasions management refused to negotiate with an unrecognised union, used the recognised unions to try to end the agitation and mobilized a repressive operation.  The repression was sanctioned by government through police support and by allowing the agitation to be declared an illegal strike.  Finally, the recognised unions, which had proved incapable of influencing the firemen’s actions, were used as the medium through which concessions were made, to bolster their official status as the workers’ only representatives.  The perception amongst worker-activists in the Firemen Council that the government, management and the recognised unions were co-operating against the workers’ interests was confirmed. It strengthened their resolve to continue with the project of building an independent, category-based union.”

Page 72:-  “Two factors arising from the Firemen’s Council agitation were important in bringing the two groups# together.  The first was the conduct of the recognised unions.  Various groups of loco running staff had approached the recognised unions in the preceding years to address their particular grievances.  In response, the recognised unions held a number of conferences between 1965 and 1967 on the problems of loco running staff.  The outcome of the conferences was, according to loco running staff activist, M.Arumai, the “mere passing of resolutions and extraction of money from the loco running staff”………..The recognised unions had been uninterested in taking firm action and had been hostile when the firemen had done so.  They dissociated themselves from the campaigns and were clearly regarded by management as another tool for forcing a return to work.” 
# The Firemen Council and Loco Running Staff Association.
Page 73-77:-   Finally, when it appeared to the Firemen’s Council, during the 1968 strike, that the government was willing to give ground and agree to a twelve-hour day, the Recognized unions stepped in and made an agreement for fourteen hours………..Supporters of the Firemen’s Council, however, regarded the agreement as a “total betrayal and a cheap sell out” and relations between the Council and the Recognized unions were, from that time on, irreconcilably embittered.  This situation helped bring the two groups of locomotive staff together because it convinced them that they could depend on nothing but their own resources…………..The second factor which became important in bringing the firemen and drivers together was management’s ability to undermine a strike in a divided workforce by using strike-breaking labour and the Territorial Army………It was obvious that their united action would be far more effective than separate campaigns.  The prevailing sentiment in favour of unity was given concrete expression in a six-day strike from 10 to 15 May 1970.   The drivers and shunters of the Loco Running Staff Association joined with the firemen and engine cleaners of the Firemen’s Council in a combined action which embraced the whole of the Southern Railway.  The strike followed what was by now a fairly predictable course.  The workers were confronted with a common front of hostility from management and the Recognized unions……….. The strike was eventually called off after parleys between the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the Railway Minister……..No progress was made over the larger issues such as working hours, but the Railway Minister agreed that diesel training should be conducted in regional languages and the “box boys” should be employed to do jobs such as carrying the “line box”.  The most important achievement of the May 1970 strike was its role in facilitating the unity of the firemen and drivers……..The formal unity of the two organizations was cemented with the formation of the All-India Loco Running Staff Association at a conference at Vijayawada in August 1970.
Page 77:-  “The central demand of the agitations of 1967, 1968 and 1970 was for the reduction of working hours.  Many of the British-run railways before 1947 had classified the loco running staff’s duty as “intensive” which meant that there was a strict limit on their hours of work………After independence, however, the loco running staff’s work was uniformly classified as “continuous” .  By the 1960s, with intensified timetables and the spread of dieselization loco running staff were often on duty up to twenty hours at a time.”
Page 78:-  “Since Independence, the loco running staff had seen their wages droop dramatically in relation to other railway workers.  In the twenty years since 1947, station masters and assistant station masters had seen their pay increased by three hundred and four hundred per cent, signal inspectors by six hundred per cent and guards by nearly four hundred per cent.  Drivers and firemen, on the other hand, had only had a ninety to one hundred per cent increase during the same period.
Page 80:-  “For example, the chart said, before 1947 the driver was “accepted as the backbone of the railways, and his back bone was strong”.  After 1947 he was “just spoken of as the backbone of railways and he is left with hunch back”.  Before 1947 “the words of driver was gospel truth” and he had “high public regard”, but after 1947 there was “none to care for his words” and he had “no regard”.  Perhaps worst of all, before 1947 the “public were competing to marry a Driver, whilst after 1947 it was very hard to get a bride”.
Page 85-86:-  “The Recognized unions had become so concerned with maintaining their Recognized status that they had ceased to be effective instruments through which workers’ interests could be represented.  Voicing the cynicism felt by many workers about the various conferences and meetings held by the NFIR and AIRF, one worker asked, “Were these for the purpose of merely passing resolutions?  Or for the purpose of trading?  Or for the purpose of gaining popularity for their political cum-Trade Union leaders survival in the political arena?”.   This reflected the common feeling that the leaders of the Recognized unions were not only ineffectual but corrupt, a feeling encapsulated in the sardonic joke that the railway “ ‘Trade Unions’ have been turned into ‘Trading Unions’ ”. 
Encapsulated=To enclose in or as if in a capsule.  Sardonic=Bitter, scornful or sarcastic.
Page 94:-  “The first all-India conference of the united Loco Running Staff Association, convened in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on 25 and 26 August brought together four thousand delegates from most areas of the Indian Railways.”
Page 185-186:-  “………..Most important of all, the Association won the Railway Minster’s assent to the introduction of a ten-hour maximum working day………..This was appreciated even by some in recognised union circles.  As one leader was to express it:  “One cannot deny that [there was political pressure].  But one also cannot deny that the LRSA was in such a tremendous position as to bring to a grinding halt the train services, at least to the extent of sixty to seventy percent, throughout India”……..The Association established the principle that the railway authorities had to negotiate with an unrecognised union if the union was strong enough.  It demonstrated to the rest of the railway workers that determined, well-organised action could defeat the government’s special repressive legislations like the Defence of India Rules and the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. 
Page 197:-  The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) generally operated on the basis of a patron-client relationship between union official and member.  Its special access to the state through the Congress Party allowed it to win favours and privileges for individual workers through personal influence and to gain concessions for groups of workers through closed-door discussions.  The officials of the NFIR acted not in response to workers’ demands but to their requests.  Individual workers were expected to approach their leadership respectfully, touch their feet and request mediation.   The NFIR leaders expected recognition of their status as powerful men and usually demanded payment.”
Page 198:-  “For the NFIR, the loyalty of the worker was not particularly important.  The Federation could retain a level of formal membership because of its ability to control patronage.  Paying the membership fee for the NFIR provided the chance of getting access to the services of a patron……..The worker could well be a member of another union, one to which he or she might feel genuine commitment.  Multiple union membership was a practical strategy to gain maximum benefit --- a kind of insurance policy……..According to the NFIR’s philosophy of “constructive trade unionism”, strikes were an outmoded form of trade union activity.  The NFIR announced: “The slogan of right of strike of the 19th century when there was no democracy, no adult franchise and feudalism was going uncontrolled, has no meaning today [in the 1960s]”
Page 200:-  “Workers showed their rejection of the NFIR’s analysis when they joined the strike called by the AIRF and other central government unions in July 1960.  In the event of such a major strike, the other face of the NFIR’s “constructive trade unionism” became evident.  According to Deven Sen, President of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the police who were mobilized to break the 1960 strike were assisted by the “INTUC people who not only opposed the strike but spotted out strikers for arrest and even went in police jeeps and vans for making arrests”. The NFIR could pretend labour-management relations in the railways were harmonious, but when strikes did occur the NFIR drew clear battle lines and became a ruthless strike-breaker. 

Page 201:-  Following the 1968 strike, the Railway Board withdrew recognition from the AIRF for over a year.” 

Page 209:-  “The situation of the NFIR in late 1973 and early 1974 was an eloquent statement on the relationship between the NFIR and the railway workers.  When workers felt confident of their own strength, the NFIR felt impotent.  When workers began to take action to win their demands, the NFIR was pushed to one side.  Workers approached organisations like the NFIR, with their patron-client dynamic, when their own efforts were unlikely to succeed.  Such organisations symbolized and in fact exploited the powerlessness of the working class.  They interacted with workers at the moment of the workers’ most severe weakness --- as individuals.  When confronted with workers at their most powerful, when they acted collectively, the NFIR’s instinctive reaction was to crush them.  The NFIR was powerful when the workers were weak and their weakness was in turn perpetuated by the NFIR.”
Eloquent=Speech or writing that is forceful, fluent etc.
Page 211:-  “At the 1969 Annual Convention, the General Secretary, Priya Gupta, complained that workers no longer seemed interested inactively supporting the AIRF.  By the 1973 Convention he could see that the reason for the change was that “our unions have practically degenerated into petition making bodies” ……….As railway workers’ real incomes fell during the 1960s, activists in the zonal affiliate unions put increasing pressure on the leadership to call a strike, while management warned that the consequence of militant action would be loss of recognition.  The AIRF’s response was to act against the pressure from within its own ranks.  Dissidents were expelled and the elected executives of militant branches were arbitrarily overturned.  Militant affiliates such as the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works Labour Union were disaffiliated from the AIRF………It agreed to the government’s proposal to defer payment of Dearness Allowance for 1967 until the following year and to forgo Dearness Allowance for the three lakh casual railway workers.”
Page 215:-  The outcome of the 1968 strike was a disaster for the AIRF.  It damaged the Federation’s relations with management and, following the precedent of the 1960s strike, the Railway Board withdrew recognition.  Only those affiliates which had withdrawn from the strike were allowed to keep their recognition.  In order to win back recognition the AIRF had to accept another period of penance.
Page 216-217:-  “Year after year the AIRF would pass militant resolutions, even hold strike ballots.  But the leadership would always shrink from action”……….The AIRF leaders had once again, in George Fernandes, words, “exposed them[selves] before the workers as men who never really meant what they said, men who were not capable of implementing the decisions they took, exposed as men of straw”. 

Page 226-227:-  “Of all the options, the AIRF felt most comfortable with an openly hostile response to the category-unions.  Despite calls from some quarters for a “constructive approach” to the issue, most AIRF leaders took up a sterile oppositional stance.  Any activity initiated by the category-unions was belittled, attacked or undermined………..At the local level, AIRF leaders would personally attempt to persuade workers not to join the strike, efforts which were not always free of physical intimidation.  Collaboration between management and the AIRF against the category-unions was commonplace.  According to M.N.Bery, when he was General Manager of the Northern Railway he would forewarn the recognised unions if he knew that an unrecognised union intended to demand to see him when he arrived at a station on an inspection tour.  This gave the recognised union, either the AIRF or NFIR, time to organise a counter-deputation or demonstration to which Bery could turn in favour of the one organised by the unrecognised union.  If the unrecognised union insisted on seeing him Bery could, as he put it, say: “Well, I’ve just had a meeting with the recognised unions on this, what more is there to discuss?”. The AIRF was reducing itself to the status of a bodyguard for railway officials but seemed satisfied to accept the role if it undermined rival unions……….Management and the recognised unions even resorted to inventing fictitious negotiations as a way of excluding the category-unions from the official system of industrial relations.  As Namasivayam# candidly described it: The government wanted to announce something – the pressure was from the Loco Running Staff Association – that would have been their demand, they would have fought, struggled, went on strike.  But the government was making the announcement.  They would say: ‘In consultation with the recognised unions…’ to give credit to the recognised unions.  In other words, even when concessions were made to category-unions, managers would declare that the question had been resolved as a result of negotiations with the recognised unions.
#Namasivayam was the General Secretary of SRMU.

Page 228:-   “It was mentioned in Chapter Two that in the midst of the 1968 firemen’s strike, when the Firemen’s Council was demanding maximum hours be reduced to twelve, the Railway Board made a deal with the AIRF for a fourteen-hour day.  The AIRF rode the momentum of the firemen’s strike to gain a concession.  The possibility of winning at twelve-hour day did not seem to concern the AIRF.  It was more interested in taking the credit and preserving its influence than in having the firemen work shorter hours.   The railway authorities put a great deal of importance on maintaining these pretences with the recognised unions.  M.N.Bery regretted that his greatest failure, as Chairman of the Railway Board during the August 1973 loco running staff strike, was that he could not persuade the Loco Running Staff Association to have the recognised unions associated with the agreement for a ten-hour day.
Page 229-231:-  The aftermath of 13th August 1973 agreement between the management and the AILRSA:  The Loco Running Staff Grievance Committee, set up to work out the details of the ten-hour day, was a formal structure challenging existing institutions.  The challenge panicked many officials of the AIRF.  As one official put it: “The ‘de jure’ recognition granted to [the Loco Running Staff Association] by the Govt. agreeing to constitute a Committee will have serious repercussions on other categories.”………..The first meeting of the Committee was to be held in Madras on 9 September 1973.  The AIRF’s affiliate in the Southern Railway called a demonstration outside the railway offices to try to stop the meeting from going ahead……..M.N.Bery received the union’s General Secretary and accepted a protest note from him.  Probably at Bery’s prompting, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had the meeting cancelled because a difficult “law and order” situation had been created by the demonstration.  An understandably angered Loco Running Staff Association circulated copies of a letter between AIRF officials which showed the AIRF had co-operated with management in organizing the demonstration.  The letter assured the organisers that leave would be granted for the demonstrators and that “you may also make arrangements with the Divisional authorities for arranging a comfortable journey”.  Quite probably the whole affair was planned by Bery and Namasivayam, who had a close working relationship from the days when Bery was Member (Staff) of the Railway Board.  The AIRF did not appear to be embarrassed by the revelation of its collaboration with management.  Indeed, a similar demonstration was called by the AIRF union in the Northern Railway outside the Rail Bhavan in New Delhi when the Grievance Committee met there on 25 September.  As will be shown later, the work of the Committee was repeatedly delayed and finally brought to a standstill partly through the efforts of the recognised unions.  The AIRF obstructed the achievement of a goal for which an important category of railway workers had been striving for over a decade.  To the leadership of the AIRF this was secondary to preservation of its privileged position.  Such a completely negative posture could only be counter-productive.  Standing in the way of negotiations might succeed in harassing category-unions, but it increased the unpopularity of the AIRF and heightened its reputation as a tool of management.  The AIRF continued to drift from crisis to crisis.  In the eyes of trade unionists inside and outside the railways, it had become an impotent organisation.  For supporters of the All India Trade Union Congress the AIRF was “ineffective” and “acquiescing with the bureaucrats”.  The Centre of Indian Trade Unions considered that it had “virtually surrendered to the Railway Board”.  Even people who were politically aligned with the leadership, like Socialist Party MP, Madhu Limaye, had come to the conclusion that the organisation was “virtually moribund”.  George Fernandes throught the AIRF was “moving like a rudderless ship”.  Still more embarrassing, the Chairman of the Railway Board was of the opinion that the AIRF had become “effete”.  It was not surprising that railway workers looked for alternatives to the impotent recognised unions as their unresolved grievances continued to mount.”
De jure= By right or legal establishment.              
Acquiescing=Consenting quietly without protest.
Moribund=Dying; coming to an end; having little or no vitality.
Effete=No longer able to produce; spent and sterile.

Page 234:-  “With the growth of a leadership with vested interests in an inactive union, numbers of AIRF activists began to fear that the Federation was becoming like a second NFIR.  The pull towards becoming a management-oriented union was also a pull in the direction of patron-client relations and towards hostility to collective workers’ action.”
Page 462:-  “As the trade union movement developed a more secure place in Indian society, greater numbers of unions were led by officials who came from the ranks of their industry.  This was particularly true of the railways, at least at the zonal level, where officials such as Umraomal Purohit from the Western Railway, J.P.Chaubey fom the Northern Railway, M.Namasivayam from Southern Railway and A.V.K.Chaitanya from the South Central Railway were all former railway employees.  All these individuals, however, became full-time union functionaries and never returned to the workplace.  The most pertinent characteristic of the category-unions which marked them out from the recognised unions was that their leaders were railway workers who pursued their union work while carrying out their duties as railway employees.

Page 472-473:-  “A union which cannot take its workers out on strike has little or no power.  Or, more precisely, a union has power only if it can convince an employer that it has the ability to take its workers out on strike.  The history and reputation of a particular union, or an awareness of the power of trade unionism as a whole, can persuade an employer to make concessions to a union on the implicit or explicit threat of withdrawal of labour.  But a union with no history of action or which has been weakened by factors such as state repression, management co-option or internal division, will have little capacity to make its threat of a strike or other industrial action a credible one.  Over time, such a union will lose its capacity to exercise the power inherent in workers’ position as sellers of labour-power.  This study has documented the decline of the two recognised unions to organisations with little or no credibility with management and declining support amongst the railway workers.  In particular, the AIRF, which saw itself as an activist union rather than just a patron-client body like the Congress-run NFIR, wanted to be taken seriously by railway management and the government but was unprepared to take the risk of cutting itself loose from the tentacles of management-controlled institutions.  Its repeated unfulfilled promises of strike action meant that it was no longer believed by either the employer or by the workers.”
            Now the history of the Federations, as above, is before you. You will be able to get more shocking facts if you go through the above book in detail.  Moreover, the History Committee of the AILRSA is also on the job of publishing our glorious achievements/history.  In the light of the above narration, it is amply clear that we cannot expect any loco running staff demands being projected amply by both the Federations.  Are you still encouraging them by contributing monthly from your salary and remaining as its member/office-bearer?  Please have a self-introspection and yield to your consciousness.
Au revoir!


Welcome To AILRSA....


Admin Area

Blog Archive

AILRSA 1970 - . Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email

Are You Satisfied with 7th Pay commission ?

Popular Posts

Recent Posts

Text Widget