Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Having agitated for over four decades to get “just working hours and conducive working atmosphere”, the All India Loco Running Staff Association is disappointed after the Railway Board finally acted on their demands.

Three years after a high-power committee submitted its report on duty hours of loco pilots, the board, during February first week, accepted 70 out of 89 recommendations. The association claimed that the left-out recommendations were the ones that could have soothed their demands.

The board did not accept important recommendations, made by the committee that was comprised of retired officials of the Railways, with no representation from the running crew, regretted L. Moni, AILRSA central president. The association had in fact demanded a judicial committee to address their demands on duty hours.

He said loco pilots worked inhuman hours, had insufficient rest periods, and continuous night duties that bring early fatigue, insufficient time with family, unsafe working, violations and short cut procedures, etc. Mr. Mony said that whenever the loco pilots’ agitation gained momentum, or received judicial intervention or criticism from the Labour Department or the public, the board would constitute ‘in house’ committees to avoid backlash.

Though the D.P. Tripathi-headed committee submitted its recommendations in August 2013, the board sat on it and woke up only when the AILRSA sat on a hunger strike in New Delhi on December 14 and 15, Mr. Mony said. Several committees, including the Anil Kakodkar Committee, had recommended limiting duty hours; but still the board continues with the unscientific 13 hours duty, he regretted.

Tripathi Committee recommendation of 11 hours duty at a stretch, extendable by one hour, too is unscientific and duty hours should have been limited to six hours, he felt.

Against the committee’s recommendation of four 40-hours weekly rest, the board wants to continue with the present 30 hours weekly rest. The HPC erred in continuing with the present system of calling a pilot, who is on rest, for duty before two hours, as it infringes rest hours.

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