Sunday, June 12, 2016

TNN | Jun 11, 2016,

Chennai: In an effort to save electricity and boost production, Southern Railway has started cracking down on unauthorised offices of trade unions. Last week, RailwayProtection Force personnel and officers removed connections to two air-conditioners in two unauthorised 'offices' of Southern Railway Mazdoor Union(SRMU) at Basin Bridge train care centre.

The move came after the manager of the centre was instructed by the Divisional Railway Manager to shut two room taken over by SRMU without permission. Railway Board guidelines say a recognised union can have a branch for every 1,000 employees and SRMU, the sole recognised union in the zone which secured 43,000 votes, can have only 43 offices. It has more than 180. Illegal union offices were leading to a loss of 12,600 mandays a year, said an official representation of theSouthern Railway Officers Association (SROA).

Railway rules say only Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) officers are allowed ACs in their offices, but all unauthorised union offices have them. With some of these quarters used for gambling and drinking during work hours, according to insiders, the cost for the railways, in electricity and water charges, is huge and a crackdown was due. Authorities now expected to target four quarters at railway colony which accommodates the railway hospital unit of SRMU.

Recently, authorities removed CCTV cameras from the railway institute's ground in Perambur which had been illegally installed. This was weeks after SRMU general secretary N Kanniah was involved in a scuffle with rival union members over entry to the ground. Railway authorities in other divisions like Salem and Madurai have also started the crackdown, sources said.

A Janakiraman, general secretary of Dakshin Railway Employees Union, SRMU's rival, said Southern Railway officials were not proactive enough. "The top brass has acted after so long despite petitions from SROA and rival unions. Such indiscipline has been there for decades," he said.

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