Monday, August 24, 2015

Haridwar: There is resentment brewing among station masters in the Indian Railways. This is due to non-fulfillment of some of their demands which they consider long overdue. Now, the All-India Station Masters Association's (AISMA) secretary-general V N Chaudhari has called upon them to gear up for chakka jam on November 23 if these demands are not fulfilled by September 2.

Chaudhari was speaking at AISMA's zonal biannual general body meeting held at Haridwar on Sunday. Over 250 station masters from all five divisions in the northern zone participated. Expressing his support to the demands of AISMA, BJP MP Tarun Vijai said he will raise the matter in Parliament and also speak to the railways and finance ministers. "The railways has made considerable progress. Why should station masters not get its benefit, too?" asked Vijai, who was guest of honour at the meeting. The main demands of AISMA include a minimum grade pay of Rs 4,600 and abolition of essential intermittent (EI) duty roster applicable in case of about 1,800 stations out of a total 7,000 in the country. EI roster entails 12 hours of duty for station masters.

According to AISMA zonal secretary Ranjit Kumar, when the matter of 12-hour duty was taken to the railway tribunal, it referred it to the regional labour commissioner with favourable comments. From the labour commissioner, it went to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which decided the matter in favour of station masters. EI was subsequently dropped in quite a few railway sections of Moradabad division. However, it is still in force in as many as 1,800 stations, Kumar said.

As VN Chaudhari said, for station masters, the Sixth Pay Commission had recommended a grade pay of Rs 2,800, which was less than that of their subordinates. After AISMA took exception to it, the railways agreed to increase their grade pay to Rs 4,200 in 2010. But the matter, referred to the finance ministry, has been hanging fire for years.

According to AISMA office bearers, its units in all 68 divisions of the railways will stage protest demonstrations all over the country on September 2, which is the deadline for the government to accept their demands. On November 23, they will extend support to a nationwide strike by the association of central government employees and bring the entire railways to a standstill.


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