Saturday, February 27, 2016

To

Shri Suresh Prabhu,

Hon’ble Minister for Railways,

Rail Bhavan, New Delhi.

                                                   Through: - Divisional Railway Manager


Respected Sir,

The entire Loco Running Staff of Indian Railways hail your immediate response to our grievances, placed before your good office on 15th Dec.2015 through a delegation. The grievance was pertaining to non-implementation of recommendations of High Power Committee (HPC) on review of duty and rest hours of Running Staff. We met Chairman and Member Staff and pleaded to take a decision on the High Power Committee recommendations. Not only this Association but the two federations also continuously clamored for the acceptance of the recommendations. Apparently, after your intervention the Full Board considered the recommendations and accepted it to some extent. We, whole heartedly, appreciate the Railway Board in considering the recommendations, keeping in mind the welfare of Running Staff and also the safety of train operations, though they are not to our expectations.

The recommendations of HPC were on a proper understanding of the constraints of Railways. The committee had detailed discussion not only with the staff side but with various officials from Divisions, Zones and Railway Board level, and detailed field study. In utter disregard to these hectic works, many of the apt recommendations were either rejected or diluted by the Railway Board. 

We are enclosing the minutes of Full Board meeting circulated vide RailwayBoard letter no: E (LL)/2015/HPC/2/Pt.MS dt 02-02-2016 for ready reference.

We are constrained to say that, some of the recommendations of High Power Committee, which were derived after extensive study and deliberation with all the stake holders, were not fully appreciated by the Railway Board, as they were not objectively considered, resulting in taking decisions bereft of the spirit and purpose of the recommendations for which they were made. The main object of constituting the HPC has to review the working hours and the rest period of running staff especially of Loco Running Staff. It is seen from the Railway Board Minutes that out of 89 recommendations only 9 recommendations pertaining to working hours and rest, remaining were on other matters not connected with the core issue of duty hours/rest period. Out of the 9 recommendations only 2 recommendations had been accepted by the Railway Board and other 7 recommendations were rejected. Therefore it seem to us that the Railway Board minutes is an order of rejections rather than acceptance.

It may please be noticed that the agreement in NC/JCM with the Cabinet Secretary on 15-06-2006 was to refer the issue of working hours and rest period of Running Staff to a Judicial Committee, for an impartial analysis of the issue. After a lapse of 5 years of this agreement in the year 2011 the Railway Board constituted this High Power Committee with their own retired Railway officials against the spirit of the agreement arrived at the NC/JCM for an impartial review of the working hours and rest period of Running Staff of Indian Railways. You are in agreement that in the Industrial Jurisprudence, universally accepted norms that deciding the service conditions of employees such as pay and allowance, working hours and rest period should not be exclusively left to the employer, on the premises that the interest of the employer alone will hail on such adjudications. In total disregard to this universal norms, the Railway Board, the Employer was seized the issue for adjudication. This is against all cannons of justice. The recommendations of such a committee is seen rejected by the employer ie Railway Board, though the recommendations are by their own men.

We are specifically pointing out some of the decisions for your kind consideration with the high hope that an objective relook from your esteemed office will result in taking positive decisions on the recommendations of the High Power Committee in the interest of health of Loco Pilots and safety of travelling public.

1. Duty hours of Loco Running Staff

Para 9.1 to 9.3of the Railway Board minutes deal with the duty hours of Running Staff.

An agreement was arrived between the striking Loco Running Staff and then Minister of Labour on behalf of the Government of India on 13-08-1973. Point no 7 of the agreement reads as “members of the Loco Running Staff will not be required to work for more than 10 hours at a stretch from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’”. The Hon’ Railway minister also announced in the Floor of Parliament on 14-08-1973, that the duty at a stretch would be limited to 10 hours. After extensive studies etc. the Railway Administration finally issued an order bearing No.E(LL)HER / 29 dt 13-08-1978 limiting the duty to 10 hours at a stretch from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’.

In the name of clarification to the said order many periods in the 10 hours duty rule were withdrawn thus once again the running staff were forced to work for unlimited duty at a stretch. The said clarification of Railway Board orderdt03-04-1981, has been quashed by Central Administrative Tribunal, Ernakulam, terming it as ‘inhuman’. On a wrong interpretation of the said judgment again Railway Board issued an order dt. 13-04-1992 compelling the Loco Running Staff to perform 13 hours of duty at a stretch, in total disregard of the assurance of the Minister who announced it in the Floor of Parliament on 14-08-1973.

Parliamentary Standing Committee for Railways of 14thLokshabha in its fifth report on safety and security on Railways dt. 21-09-2004 recommended that the hours of work at a stretch of Loco Running Staff should not exceed 8 hours.

In spite of all these developments the plight of inhuman working conditions of Loco Running Staff continued. Therefore the workers continued with their agitation to reduce the inhuman working hours at least to 10 hours from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’. As a corollary the Hours of Employment Regulation, 1968 has been amended with the approval of ministry of labour, thus:- 

In terms of section 136 of the Indian Railways act 1989, the Central Government promulgated the Railway Servants (Hours of Work and period of Rest Rules) 2005 in terms of sub rule 9 of rule 8, while preparing the roster, 'Long ON’ or 'Short OFF’ should be avoided‘ Long on’ is defined under rule (c) to mean that “a period of duty over 10 hours in the case of continuous workers”. The Loco Running Staff fall under the ‘continuous’ category under the hours of employment regulations.

According to the Railway servant (Hours of Work and period of Rest Rules) 2005, no continuous worker should be put to duty for more than 10 hours at a stretch. This is the legal position now in force.

A factual job analysis was conducted at the instance of Regional Labour Commissioner (central), Chennai and the said statutory authority was pleased to declare through an order no m.41 / 1/hoer/2011-b2 dt 26-12-2011 that the Loco Running Staff are required to be classified as ‘Intensive’ Category under the rules with a maximum duty hours at a spell be 8 hours. The said order was upheld by the Ministry of Labour the Appellate authority.

Para 9.3 of the Railway Board minutes prescribing one hour extension in overall duty/running duty in case the train does not reach its destination or crew relieving point is to be reconsidered. It is possible to bring the relief crew to the train if it is only one hour journey away by train or road as presently being done in various parts of the country with the advent of advance technology. If there is no transportation on the area to bring the relief crew to the train it has some sense. Compelling a crew, who had worked for 11 hours which may include a full night duty, to work for one hour further with already sustained fatigue, is inhuman and a safety hazard. Therefore Para 9.3 should be deleted.

2. Review of duty hours in 2020.

Para 9.4 of the Railway Board minutes says that duty hour from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’ should be reviewed in 2020 in tandem with vision 2020, by which time the major line capacity works are expected to be completed and most of the dedicated fright corridor system is likely to become operational. At that time it should be possible to reduce overall duty hours at a stretch to 10 hours from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’.

From 1969 onwards the Railway Board was taking a stand that after 5 to 7 years major line capacity augmentation works etc... are expected to be completed. This is the argument placed before the Railway Labour Tribunal 1969 and Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2004. For the past 50 years the Railway Board sticks to this argument, whether this will be advanced after 2020 also is a matter to be pondered.

From our past experience with Railway Board, it is our apprehension that in 2020 also the Railway Board will tell the same cock and bull story to exploit the workers. Railways will conveniently advance the same stock reason that, it cannot reduce the duty hours from 12 hours to 10 hours in a fine morning and that such a situation will definitely come up in 2020.

It is our genuine demand, from our past experience, that a strategy be started now itself to reduce the duty hours from 11/12 to 8 hours culminating in tandem with vision 2020 as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways in 2004. We call your attention to the recommendation of Miabhoy Tribunal (RLT 1969). The RLT 1969 had a task to bring the duty hours from 14 hours to 12 hours. The recommendation of the tribunal was unique, which directed the Ministry of Railways to reduce the duty hours at a stretch in a phased manner year by year till the target of 12 hours being reached. Why this simple process be considered to reduce the duty hours to 8 hours in tandem with vision 2020, and in line with the ILO conventions, national and international Laws on duty hours at a stretch. We see no problem to implement 8 hours duty at a stretch even in present available capacity of line and infrastructure, if crew management is efficient and vacancies are being filled in. A strong resentment is seen amongst the staff. This union therefore urge upon the Hon. Minister of Railways to review the decision of Railway Board as well as the HPC recommendation and implement 8 hours duty from sign on to sign off which is quite possible even today’s available infrastructure. 

3. Framing of Mail/Express/ Passenger Crew links: Limit of duty hours.

Para 9.5 of the Railway Board minutes deal with limit of duty hours for framing crew links for Mail and Express Loco pilots. 

We call your attention to the deliberation of the High Power committee in this regard on page no. 85 and 86 of the report, it reads as under

“It is observed that the majority of crew links are planned with 6 hours of running duty, however for some of the trains the running duty extends up to 8 hours or a little beyond 8 hours”. Therefore looking at the higher stress level that a Mail/Express Loco Pilot under goes during run the HPC recommended that the running duty hours of Mail/Express Loco pilots for the purpose of preparing the links be limited to 8 hours.

It is clear from the above observation that almost all crew links are planned with 6 hours of running duty and seven hours of overall duty and exceeding 7 hours are exception. So fixing 8 hours limit from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’ for Mail/Express Loco Pilots is very easy now and need not be stretched to 2020. Moreover in the whole Indian Railways the distance between two crew changing points fall within 6 hours run.

We call your attention to the observation of the HPC committee in this regard, at page no 84 and 85 of this report, which reads as under:-

It is seen that their working involves continuous run at high speed over long stretches and with responsibility of over a thousand lives travelling in these trains. A kilometer distance is gone within less than half a minute. In this one kilometer covered in half a minute or so, the trains might encounter a level crossing gate, a signal, an animal crossing or some other obstruction. The braking distance in emergency when train is moving at 100 kmph is of the order of 750 meters or so. The Loco pilot’s attention has to be always on the signal as well as on the obstacles on the track, condition/continuity of OHE, anything approaching from sides of the track, the loco controls, VCD, TPWS, the trailing and he has to remain prepared to stop at the earliest in any emergency. The sections with Automatic Signaling on long continuous stretches with signal sighting required at intervals of less than a minute due to higher speeds further adds to the burden of continuous sustained attention on the Loco pilot. The committee members individually and collectively travelled on foot plate in the automatic territory (both fitted/equipped with TPWS system and without TPWS system). The interaction with the Loco pilot/Engine Crew on these trains brought out that not only the continuous sustained attention on signals & Locomotive control display units is causing stress and tiredness, the continuous standing/sitting (on an uncomfortable seat) adds to the buildup of physical fatigue which gets aggravated due to the reason that the Loco pilot/Engine Crew has to control even his urge to attend nature’s call on account of continuous running without stoppage. 

Coupled with the requirement of such a sharp concentration level, there are many adverse conditions such as heavy noise, vibrations and extreme heat/cold environment inside the locomotive cab. The driver may also be working against his natural circadian rhythm. The amount of stress developed by all these on the Loco pilot can only be imagined. Moreover, the enroute detentions as in case of freight trains which provide some relief to the Running Staff are not there in case of Mail/Express trains. Expecting a person to work under such conditions continuously/regularly for hours together is being unkind to him and this, in a short span of time, might make him prone to making mistakes.

Moreover, a Loco pilot, for reaching the level of Mail/Express Loco pilot, has to pass through all the stages of Running Staff Cadre starting from Assistant Loco pilot. Thus, he would generally have crossed his middle age the time he reaches this level. Obviously, his working stamina and concentration level gets affected on this account and expecting the same level of concentration and physical output from him as that from a younger freight Loco pilot is perhaps not justified.

Therefore 8 hours limit from ‘Sign ON’ to ‘Sign OFF’ be prescribed for the purpose of preparing crew links of Mail/Express trains.

4. Replacement of Assistant Loco pilot with Co- Pilot

The HPC recommended providing co-pilot in place of assistant Loco pilot in those links of Mail/Express link which are having nonstop runs of more than 4 hours (Para 9.9 of Railway Board Minutes). This recommendation has been rejected abruptly by the Railway Board. In this regard we extract the deliberation of the HPC which read as under:-

“However the committee does appreciate the concern of the Federation for de-stressing the Loco pilot of Super fast/Rajadhani/Shatabdi/Duronto and other mail/Express trains who are having long continuous run without a halt/break. In such cases, the Railway cannot afford to provide the luxury of snooze time of 40 minutes as provided to airline pilots when the aircraft is auto-pilot cruise, it can facilitate de-stressing of the Loco pilot by introducing the concept of Co-Pilot by (in place of Assistant Loco pilot) in the same grade in those links of Mail/Express trains also which are having nonstop runs of more than four hours. In fact such a system is already being followed for Rajadhani trains as per the Ministry of Railways letter no. E(P&A)II-2000/RS-21 dated 26-09-2002”.

Hence it is our plea that the provision of Co- Pilot in same grade in place of Assistant Loco pilot in the above case is warranted and justified.

5. Rostered Hours of Work in Mail/Express links

Para 9.13 of Railway board minutes 

From time immemorial the statutory limit of working hours for Loco pilots in a fortnight for Rajadhani / Shatabti and such super fast express has been limited to 90 hours. Going back this position is too harsh and unwarranted. The working hours of Mail/Express shall be limited to 90 hours in a fortnight. In this regard we call your attention to the report of the HPC, it reads as under:-

“Nevertheless, considering the sustained activity level amongst superfast Loco pilots, Ministry of Railways issued instructions under Railway Board’s letter no. E(LL)77/HER/29 dated 16.04.1979 limiting their fortnightly duty hours to 90. However, the committee noticed that, onall those sections where such superfast trains are running, a large no of other Mail/Express trains are also running and the sustained attention level of the Loco pilots of Mail/Express trains is almost of the same as that of the Loco pilots of Superfast trains, and their stress built up on this account is almost of the same level. Therefore, the committee considering all these factors and also the fact that the links are common in many divisions for Mail/Express and Superfast trains recommend that the fortnightly duty hours for Mail/Express trains should be limit to 90 hours. This would enable the Loco pilots of all Mail/Express trains to overcome the fatigue caused to them on account of highly sustained activity and a very high sustained attention level during train working”. 

Therefore we demand that the recommendation of HPC to reduce the fortnightly duty hours to 90 hours for Mail/Express Loco pilots be accepted. Added to that we point out the Railway Labour Tribunal 1969 recommended to treat entire period of duty from sign on to sign off as period of duty vide para 6.226 (5)D(b)(vi). Hence additional duty hours of 8 hours per fortnight as preparatory and compensatory work are unjust. Thus statutory limit of working hours in a fortnight would have fixed at 96 hours. The recommendations of the RLT 1969 were asserted by the Government of India in toto, but the Railway has not honored and implemented the same. Moreover ILO convention no 47, concerning the reduction of hours of work to forty a week stipulates the principle of 40 hours of work under Article 1. 

6. Spare Travel

Para 9.15 of Railway Board Minutes

The recommendations of HPC to count the period of crew travelling as passenger to take over charge of trains and run further for the purpose of duty at a stretch is rejected by the Railway Board without assigning any reasons. We call your attention to the deliberation of the High power Committee in page no 100 of its report, which reads as follows:-

“At field level, the decision to depute a crew to travel as passenger to another station is taken in a last minute. The crew, therefore, has to travel either by un reserved accommodation or in the loco cab or in brake van. In all these modes of travel, the crew does not get any rest and get fatigue. Deputing him to operate a train for further 10 to 12 hours would cause excessive stress and fatigue, especially towards the end of duty period and make him prone to committing mistakes affecting train safety”. 

Considering these facts the HPC recommended that the period of spare travel should get counted to his duty at a stretch. It is in our experience, not counting the period of spare travel for the purpose of duty at a stretch invariably lead to crew working for more than 13 to 16 hours and more at a stretch. Therefore the recommendation to treat spare travel as duty of HPC should be accepted in toto, rejection of the same will lead to inhuman working conditions imposed upon the running staff.

7. Absence from Head Quarters.

Para 9.16 of Railway Board Minutes

The recommendation and its acceptance that the stay in outstation to be reduced from 72 hours to 48 hour in tandem with vision 2020. Why not it be started now itself to limit it to 48 hours by 2020 in line with the process recommended by RLT 1969. In a finemorning the Railway Board could not reduce it from 72 hours to 48 hours abruptly in the year 2020. We plead before the Ministry of the Railways the targeted 48 hours be arrived from the present 72 hours, by reducing 6 hours per year till the target as suggested arrives, and further to 36hrs. 

We point out that the Railway Board came to a negotiated settlement with AIRF, the recognized body, that the outstation limit be reduced to 36 hours.

8. Continuous night duties 

Para 9.17 deals with the continuous night duties of Loco Running Staff. The recommendation of High Power Committee was to limit the number of continuous night duties to two with a rider that one night duty in exigency of service with conditions.

The High Power Committee had dealt the issue very extensively by going through the international trend in transportation, various studies made world wide on cascading effect of continuous night duty on the health of the worker and the consequent safety hazards in train operation, besides scrutinizing the working schedules of five Loco pilots working in Rajdhani express links, who met with accidents and further, deliberated intensely with all stakeholders before making its recommendations. The Railway Board’s decision, diluting the very crucial recommendation to the extent of three and fourth night in operational exigencies is jeopardizing the safety in train operation and the health of the workers, is something that nobody could swallow.

There are no night duty shifts in administrative and allied offices in Indian Railways. Night duty shifts are invariable in field work in every transportation. In field area many employees’ works as Station masters, travelling ticket examiners, lot of technicians in engineering, mechanical and commercial and to the extent of 80% of Railway workers are field workers. None of them are prescribed with second night duty, consecutively. The standard duty rosters published by the personal department which have the approval of the Railway Board don’t prescribe a 2nd consecutive night duty. In between two night duties there is a gap of two to three days in the standard roster. It may, please, be noted that except the Running staff, all are in stationary duty. When such being the norms adopted by the Railways for other railway men, prescribing more than two consecutive night duties to Loco pilots cannot be construed as a wise decision at all, as such four consecutive night duties are highly hazardous not only to the safety of travelling public but also to the Loco pilots , in whose hands the lives of thousands of passengers are entrusted and in any case it is not expected from a Government Department like Indian Railways, which has to function as a model Employer. The Human Rights Commission, Kerala charter has also directed the Railways to limit the consecutive night duty of Loco Running Staff to two.This Association strongly protests such decision of the Railway Board and demand to review this decision and limit the consecutive night duties to two as recommended by the HPC.

9. Head Quarters Rest

Para 9.19 of Railway Board Minutes

The recommendation is said to have been accepted in principle, though with a rider of “subject to exigency of service” but there after the Railway Board further says that the existing norms / rules will continue. We say that this rider is nothing but effectively nullifying the recommendation and its acceptance. Therefore we earnestly request to delete the rider attached and remove the ambiguity. 

10. Out Station Rest

Para 9.20 of Railway Board Minutes

The HPC recommended after considering many facts relating to safe train operations that an outstation rest of 8 hours may be given to all running staff uniformly irrespective of his duty hours. The committee rightly deliberates in its report which reads as under,

“The committee is of the view that any out station rest which is of a duration less than 8 hours, is highly inadequate for the reason that running staff spends considerable time on many other activities besides resting. These are 

1. Time required to travel from lobby to the running room. 

2. Time required for meeting the personal hygiene needs. 

3. Time for getting meals prepared and for consuming them. 

4. Time required for falling asleep. 

5. Call Book time.

Thus, the actual time available to the running staff for rest/sleep is much less than 8 hours. Whereas the minimum requirement of sleep is 8 hours as mentioned in para 4.3.3.3 above. NASA report stipulate a minimum sleep time in a 24 hours time which is not being granted to running staff at out station in the present working system. The committee is also of the view that linking the outstation rest only to the duration of the incoming train is not logic as the rest granted is for recouping from fatigue for the onward journey. If the Loco pilot is not granted with adequate rest before performing the outgoing trip which may be too long, his alertness level may get affected due to the….”. Rejecting such a crucial recommendation which meant for ensuring safety in train operation is highly objectionable and detrimental to safety in train operation. This association demands to an outstation rest of 8 hours may be given to all running staff uniformly irrespective of his duty hours and accept this recommendation in toto.

11. Periodical Rest/Weekly Rest

Para 9.24 deals with the periodical rest/weekly rest of Loco Running Staff. The recommendation of High Power Committee was to grant 4 periods of 40 hours as periodical/weekly rest in a month. This recommendation was squarely rejected and decided that the existing position with preference to 4 periods of 30 hours rest must be continued. This is too drastic entirely spoiling the life of the Loco pilots and their family members. Your goodself will be in agreement that the running staff most of the time in a week or month that too their entire service will be away from their family. That itself prevents them from participating in any social functions or in their family functions, and also prevents them from fulfilling their civic obligations, and look after their children, as could be done by other workers who are returning home daily after his duty. Allowing 40 hours weekly rest does not reduce the overall duty hours in a week that still stand at 104 hours in a fortnight. Railway is no way losing on account of allowing 40 hours rest in week as no reduction is affected in overall duty fixed at 104 hours fortnightly. So rejecting the recommendation is nothing but to harass the workers, prevents them from interaction with society and leaving their family members at the mercy of somebody else. The resultant social impact cannot be explained fully in this representation.

It may be specifically noted that Railway workers including the officers attached to administrative and allied offices enjoy two days leisure on Saturday and Sunday every week which runs to 63 hours at a stretch. Unlike the Running staff they are working indoor with breaks for tea, lunch etc. in-between, while sitting in comfortable rooms without facing the vagaries of the weather outside. Even the field workers in Railway enjoy a weekly rest of 48 hours at the least.The application of standard roster invariably gives them 58/54 hours weekly rest. In fact none of the Railway workers has a lesser scale of weekly rest as of the Running Staff. Even the recommendation of 40 hours is lesser than the normal weekly rest prescribed and enjoyed by the entire Rail workers. We are not asking to give the same scale of rest of other workers, but at the least a 40 hours rest in a week much lesser than others that was recommended by High Power Committee.

The Regional Labour Commissioner, Bengaluru upheld that the daily / trip rest should not be clubbed with the weekly rest and that decision was upheld by the Hon’ High Court of Karnataka. In a contempt petition before the Hon’ High Court the Railway had filed an affidavit that the above decision was implemented. According to this the 16 hours trip rest + 30/22 hours periodical rest together come to 46/38 hours. This position is well known to Railway Board. The periodic rest and head quarters rest are two different aspect altogether. At present the head quarters rest of 12/16 hours and the periodic rest of 22/30 hours run concurrently. Para IX of the ILO convention R.161 of 1979 hours work and rest period (Road Transportation) stipulate the concept that the periodical rest and the daily rest should be independent of each other. The ILO recommendation reads as under..

“The minimum duration of the rest should be 24 consecutive hours, preceded or followed by the daily rest”

In para (3)(b) of para 4.3.6.2 of HPC report, it is clearly state as under.

“In the meeting held with Additional Member (Traffic), Additional Member (Mechanical) and Additional Member (Electrical) along with their concerned officers in Railway Board on 23.07.2012, there was a general consensus among the additional members on the need for increasing the periodical rest because of the social and family needs of the Running Staff. There was also a general consensus on fixing it at ‘Head quarter rest + Calendar day rest of 24 hours’, ie at 40 hours per week”.

The HPC further stated in this report as under:-

“The committee has also noticed that the weekly rest which is being given to all stationary staff at present is either 64 hours fixed (for those who are availing 2 days weekly off) or 40 hours fixed (for those who are availing one day weekly off) or 40 hours on an average (for those who are working in shift duty and availing one day weekly off). Therefore, a weekly rest of only 22/30 hours to the running staff is not only inadequate but highly in discriminatory also. In fact the ILO recommendation also provides for fixing minimum duration of the periodical rest at 24 consecutive hours preceded or followed by the daily rest, which comes to the same. The committee found general consensus among the staff as well as the management for rationalizing the periodical rest at 40 hours”

On such extensive deliberation, discussion and study the HPC came to a conclusion that the periodical rest must be 40 hours, rejecting such a recommendation by the Railway Board expose the anti-worker attitude of them. We record our resentment and protest in this regard. 

Either the recommendation of 40 hours weekly rest or the RLC decision upheld by Hon’ High Court of Karnataka that the headquarters rest and periodical rest is a separate entity and should not be clubbed together, be accepted.

12. Minimum Punishment to Staff on SPAD

The HPC in its report vide page no 88 and 89 specifically said as follows:-

“Adding to the existing stress level of the running staff, are the Ministry of Railways stipulation of minimum punishment specified for SPAD. The committee finds that in many cases even if the circumstances and other reasons for such infringements may point to the system deficiency or even when there is no consequential/adverse effect/ damage, the prescribed minimum punishment has to be administered upon the engine crew. The fear keeps nothing in the mind of running staff at all the time and over a period of time; it increases their stress level considerably which is not good for the system”. 

The committee recommends a review of the existing instructions of minimum punishment for SPAD to ensure that the decision takes into account the gravity of the offence (repercussions of the SPAD) and the Loco pilot’s past records also. Based on this recommendation, order on minimum penalty for SPAD may be reviewed at the earliest. The Justice H R Khanna committee, 1998 also recommended in the same line. Therefore we demanded this recommendation also be accepted.

13. Ambiguous Clauses

The Railway Board minutes while accepting/diluting some of the recommendations, used some terminologies such as 

1. ‘Operational exigencies’

2. ‘Severe Operational exigencies’

3. ‘Emergent situations’

Such riders to the acceptances virtually give an upper hand to the field officers to surpass the accepted recommendations on the plea of shortage of crew etc. Therefore such terminologies must be deleted.

Added to this while accepting the recommendations fully or partially, it is also stated that the “existing position to continue”, this is nothing but rejection of the acceptances. Therefore this should also be deleted.

14. Conclusion

It may please be noted that the duty hours at a stretch and rest period are important aspect to ensure safety in train operation, it is not only concerned with the employee but also of atmost importance to the travelling public, as the working hours and rest of running staff is directly connected with safety in train operation, showing lethargy in this regard by the Railways is against public interest too besides imposing an inhuman working condition on the running staff. The Running staff is singled out, discriminated and forced to work in such inhuman service conditions. None of the other employees under the state have forced to work for 3 to 4 consecutive night, duty hours of 12 hours at a stretch without a break, a lesser weekly rest than 40 hours. Even private enterprises such inhuman working condition does not exist. The very crucial staff in Railway transportation whose hands safety of thousands of passengers entrusted, has been ill treated for decades squarely on account of the ineptness of a Railway Management, who cannot able to create a congenial working atmosphere to ensure safety of public. Railway Board seems to be not accountable to the parliament, the rule of this country, even an obligation to the constitution of India.

A period of long 10 years from 2006, when the Government of India conceded the demand for a Judicial Committee, to 2016, the workers eagerly and patiently waited for an ameliorate of their grievances. Still they are doomed to run trains with sleepy eyes for 4consecutive nights, look after their family with a meager weekly rest of 22/30 hours and 12 hours continuous work without a break.

No such inhuman conditions of service were prescribed for any of the Railway worker. We feel that we were let down by the mighty Railway Board.

The High Power Committee in its preface to the report says as follows:-

“The recommendations of the committee are based on the following premises arrived after due deliberations:-

a. To address the seeming sense of discrimination amongst the Running Staff that they have to work for longer periods than other Railway Staff without provision of adequate rest. 

b. The Running Staff need to be seen as normal human being having social and personal obligation, just as all other people.

c. Higher monetary compensation alone does not compensate for inadequate rest, disruption in familiar ties and unhealthy work and rest environment.

d. The recommendation be seen in totality and not from the point of view of duty hours, but total rationalisation of working environment of running staff, eg duty hours, night working, periodical rest, cab improvement, running room improvement etc”

Rejecting many of the recommendations of the HPC show the mindset of the Railway Board officials in regard to safety in train operations. The cause of every accident is being termed as ‘human failure’. Whereas the fact is that the very policy of the Railway Board in regard to safety parameter such as duty hours and rest period of the Running Staff, force to commit failures by the Running staff. The real reasons behind human failure or accidents are not being taken into consideration. Simply blaming the staff for accidents and terming it as human failures has to be pondered.

This Association hope that the Ministry of Railway will sympathetically consider our views and opinion as stated above, in the light of the fact that we are asking a reasonable reduction of the working hours and enhancement of adequate rest period. The association further expect that the recommendations which have been accepted and are undisputed such as Para of Minutes of Railway Board meeting on HPC, 9.52, 9.53, 9.57, 9.58, 9.60, 9.61, 9.62, 9.80,9.87 etc. along with others, which accepted in principle or helpful for save operation. 


Thanking You

                                                                                                                Yours faithfully


                                                                                                           Divisional Secretary 



Copy to

1. The Chairman, Railway Board, New Delhi.



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