Monday, December 28, 2015

The veteran leader of railway trade union and the stalwart of the loco running staff struggle and the former General Secretary of All India Loco Running Staff Association, Southern Railway Com R S Pandian passed away in Madurai at the age of 79 on December 28, 2014 after suffering a heart attack.

 He is survived with his wife, two sons and a daughter. The news of his demise came as a shock and the entire Loco Running Staff and the railway workers who knew him found it difficult to come to terms with the reality because they used to see him totally engaged in union activities, even more actively than many of those in service, with the energy and enthusiasm of an youngster and it was hard to imagine AILRSA without Com R S P. The passing away of Com R S P is an irreparable and great loss to the railway trade union movement in general and to the AILRSA and the Loco Running Staff in particular. With the passing away of Com R S P we have lost a man of distinction with strong commitment to the progress of the railway workers as well as a brave fighter. On behalf of the workers of the Indian Railway the AILRSA expresses its profound grief and extends heartfelt condolence to his family members, relatives, and friends and to all the well wishers.

Com R S Pandian was born on 10.07.1935. On 1958 he took a job in Madurai division of Southern Railway as Shed Khalasi. Later during 1963 he joined the running cadre as Fireman. Soon after he joined the railway he got engaged in railway trade union activities and became an active member and leader of Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU). When fireman Council was formed in 1965 he was deputed to work for the betterment of the conditions of the Loco Running Staff and joined the Fireman Council. Since then he dedicated his life and entire effort for the cause of the loco running category and to fight against the injustice perpetrated by the railway administration and continued the selfless and sincere service and uncompromising fight till his last breath. Even during his last hours before succumbing to the heart attack he was working on some important issues affecting the Loco running Staff.

While in service he participated and took a leading part in all struggles of the Loco Running Staff including the struggles of the fireman council during 1967,68,69,70 etc and in the historic all India strike by AILRSA on 1973 and also in the strike of 1981. During the great and historic All India railway workers on 1974 he was arrested and detained under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)

Com R S Pandian retired from railway service on 1992 as Loco Pilot (Pass) Madurai. From 1995 onwards, even though his family was settled at MDU he chose to camp at ED in order to continue the trade union activities and to strengthen the AILRSA. He stayed in the AILRSA union office at ED and contributed towards influencing and attracting the newcomers towards AILRSA and trade union activities. Since ED being a major depot of the Loco Running Staff of SR it helped a lot in consolidating and building the strength and unity of AILRSA. A lot of strong activists and leaders emerged under his guidance and training. Later in 1999 he shifted his centre of working from ED to MDU. This certainly was a loss to AILRSA organizationally but nobody understood that it was a beginning of a new fight. 

At MDU also Com R S P was never willing to respite but continued his activities with increased vigour and enthusiasm and worked relentlessly to widen his sphere of activities by improving his understanding and knowledge regarding various options available and to explore all possibilities to advance the fight of the Loco Running Staff. In addition to the staunch commitment to the trade union movements he also took to the course of law. For this end he dedicated a lot of efforts towards learning the various laws and rules. He became an expert in understanding the ID Acts and other labour laws through his inspiring efforts and effectively applied his understanding to bring benefits to the Loco Running Staff. 

The historic decision of the Labour Ministry to categorise the Loco Running Staff as Intensive came as a result of the of the sole and effective effort put in by Com R S P on behalf of AILRSA. The verdict on dearness pay by the Labour Court was also made possible because of his sincere effort. Many more cases are still pending at various stages. He came up with many progressive ideas and demands which the younger generations and even the collective wisdom of the organization could not catch up to.

Normally any persons, however big trade union leader they used to be while in service, after retirement from service would with the passing time show gradual decline in trade union activism, get disconnected with the recent developments and day to day issues of the employees in service, feel stagnant etc especially when not holding any official position in the union and would likely remain a nominal leader only. Com R S P, in sharp contrast to it was an exception. Even though he was not holding any formal position in AILRSA he continued to remain, during the last 22yrs since his retirement, totally engaged and directly involved in the activities of AILRSA, took initiative and lead role to organize programs and struggles, remained an integral part of the workers, kept in touch with the issues of the workers and helped them to fight against it, travelled extensively on behalf of the union to motivate and mobilise the Loco Running Staff, appeared in various labour cases as authorised person on behalf of AILRSA, remained instrumental in landmark achievements, advanced and worked for progressive demands etc. Com R S P was unique and rare personality who stood high. We are proud that he was a Loco Running Staff and the leader of AILRSA.

As a dedicated leader he strove consistently to equip the Loco Running Staff struggle. He lived a life of utmost simplicity with adorable record in trade union activities which a very few can match. For him AILRSA and workers cause was above anything else and worked hard for improving the condition of the workers even ignoring his health, personal and family life etc. Selfless sacrifice, untiring fighting spirit, total commitment to AILRSA and working class cause, dedication, perseverance, progressive mindset, simple and modest life etc are the legacy of this great man. Taking forward this legacy is the rightful tribute we can pay to Com R S Pandian. AILRSA pays respectful homage to his memory and the entire Loco Running Staff will always cherish his memory and outstanding contributions.

Red Salute to Com R S Pandian… Long Live memories of  Com R S Pandian…


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