Friday, January 8, 2016

No person can work all the time. But, We, Loco Pilots (Train Engine Drivers) of Railways are always at the disposal of his employer. 

Let us see the work of a Bus driver or Lorry Driver, when a Bus Driver or Lorry Driver starts his drive, he is told clearly where he has to go and when he has to reach. When he encounters any trouble in the vehicle, he may keep the vehicle at the edge of the road and he may ask assistance. When he is tired or exhausted, he may take rest he needs after stopping the vehicle. 

Now, see the case of Train Driver. Trouble begins before he starts his Drive. He is NOT deliberately told when he has to reach his ‘destination’ because the train’s destination (according to Driver) is NOT known to the higher-ups. The train may be designated to a particular station but the Loco Pilot may be required to ‘Stable’ the train and to continue the work till the Employer wants. Destination of the train is NOT the destination of the Loco Pilot.

In RB order, it is NOT clearly told that the Loco Pilot should be relieved after long working hours; but can claim ‘Rest’, when he claims ‘Rest’ even after 12 or 24 hours, he should be in duty till he is relieved by a competent person. Till the reliever came he should not leave the Loco. 

A Loco Pilot can be used 64% of his available working hours and 36% is treated as “Out station availability” (Here, we need not term OUT STATION REST as it is told, actually it is outstation availability of the Loco Pilot since he can NOT do any work of his choice. He can be called at any time to work Break Down/MFD Spl, or any other train simply invoking the term ‘Operational exegencies’).

It is pity to note that home station availability of the Loco Pilot is very much less than 51.52%. He can NOT sleep with his wife; he can NOT spend hours with his family; A Loco Pilot’s wife’s conjugational right is simply denied by the Railways. It is sad that, even by doing that Utility is very much less than 64%.

REST is a fundamental need of a human being like any other animal. It is strange thing in Railways that Running men are denied this fundamental need.

First, Let us analyze the REST rules of running men as per HOER.

A Clerk working in Divisional office is getting 2 days rest per week. In a month he is getting 64x4=256 hrs and in a year 256x12=3072 hrs rest.

Running man is given 4x30 hrs. PR in a month; so, in a year; 4x30x12=1440 hrs

But this 30 hrs PR can be converted as 5x22 hrs, so in a year; 5x22x12=1320hrs 

Yes, 1440hrs/year can be reduced to 1320hrs/year without violating HOER.

Injustice does not end here. The 30hrs PR or 22hrs PR can be prolonged up to 10days. Thus, practically it can be reduced as 3x30hrs PR or 3x22hrs PR by the employer. The left out portion of 1x30hrs PR or 2x22hrs PR is not compensated in terms of compensatory rest or in term of Earned Leave.

Thus running man gets rest in 1 year =3x22x12=792hrs

If a running man wants to go on leave for a day, he will apply for leave from previous day. Otherwise he may be at out station on previous day and he may not be in position to use the reservation done with his family. Thus he is losing his leave days quickly.

Another pathetic story awaits here. We have already known that the right of rest is denied and the running man is forced to apply for leave. Again the leave is denied. The employee is forced to go on absent to do his work since no other options. Now disciplinary action is initiated. He is given charge sheet and penalized. Consequently he is in frustration and disappointed. His motive and morale is lowered.

See how railway administration violates all norms; first the right of rest is denied; so employee has gone to use his privilege; again privilege is denied; now employee is forced to go on absent; disciplinary action is initiated on employee and he is punished for it and put into frustration.

It is very interesting to know about the disposal of loco running man. From the date of appointment to the date of retirement, he is always at the disposal of his employer.

After 16 hours rest at head quarters, he is at the disposal of his employer. Up to 16 hours he has to take rest by sleeping, to perform family commitments, to attend natural calls etc. After away from the head quarter around 72 hours, he is given 16 hours rest only. It is insufficient, everyone knows. But he should make himself available after 16 hours.

Loco running staff agitate and agitate and again agitate on their inhuman working hours, insufficient rest periods, continuous night duties, un-ergonomic loco cabs that bring avoidable early fatigue, insufficient time with family, unsafe working, violations and short cut procedures, etc. Whenever the agitation gain momentum, whenever a judicial intervention, severe criticism from labour department or general public come against Railways, then comes a declaration of ‘in house’ committee in different names – High power – High level or Joint committees.

The duty hours at a stretch became hot once again after 2004 – (Yes. It is once again - It became too hot in 1973 forcing Railways to agree for 10 hours limit) -Parliamentary standing committee headed by Com Basudeb Acharia recommended 8 hours duty in 2004, it became a demand of JCM among 20 point charter of demands in 2006, then came the agreement to form a High Power Committee on HOER in 2006.

AILRSA did not keep quiet. They went on agitation in different forums. Demand for Judicial Review of HOER too was prominently placed among 6th CPC anomalies. So it naturally referred to NIT in 2012. Intensive classification order came through Ministry of Labour during 2011 – 2012. Then after a long five years High Power Committee on HOER was appointed in 2011. They gave their report in 2013. Meantime came Anil Kakhodkar Committee in 2012, SPAD committee minutes in 2012, committee after committees. Again another Joint committee with AIRF & NFIR representatives is appointed in 2014 – but no meeting is called. Thus there are committees after committees, the mob is shouting thief, thief, thief.. Nobody catch the thief.


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