Friday, December 28, 2018


R. Soundara Pandian, fondly called Com. RSP, was a veteran leader of Railway Trade Union movement and a stalwart of Loco Running Staff’s struggle. He was also a former General Secretary of All Indian Loco-Running Staff Association, South zone. Com.RSP was born as the son of Mrs. Meenakshi Ammal and Mr.Ramasamy, on 10th July, 1935. He was deeply associated with the struggle of Railway employees until his death on 28th December, 2014 at the age of 79. By his demise, we lost a man with distinction who remained committed to the socialist ideals and compassionate towards working class, which led him to join Railway Trade Union movement. 

In 1958, he took-up a job in Madurai Division of Southern Railway as Shed Khalasi. Later, in 1963 he joined the running cadre as Fire Man. As soon as he joined Railway, he got engaged in railway trade union activities and became an active member and leader of Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU). When the Fire Man Council was formed in 1965, he joined it and was soon deputed to work for the betterment of the conditions of the Loco Running Staff. Since then, he dedicated his life and energy for the cause of the Loco-running category and in fight against the injustice perpetrated by Railway Administration. He continued his selfless, sincere, and uncompromising fight against injustice till his last breath. 

While in service, he participated and took leading role in struggles of the Loco Running Staff including the struggles of the Fire Man Council during 1967 to 1970, in the historic all India strike of AILRSA in 1973 and also in 1981. During the epic All India Railway Workers strike in 1974, Com RSP was arrested and detained under Maintenances of Internal Security Act (MISA). Com. RSP retired from the Railway service in 1992 as a Loco Pilot (Pass), Madurai. In 1995, even though his family was settled at Madurai, he chose to camp at Erode to pursue his passion for the cause of railway trade union activities and to further strengthen AILRSA. Later, in 1999 he shifted the location of struggle from Erode to Madurai. 

Unlike many other leaders – Central or Zonal – even after retirement, without any portfolio he was active in field. He took many DAR cases and trained many comrades to take DAR cases. In every AILRSA programs he use to attend and guide the youngsters. 

In addition to the staunch commitment to the Trade Union movements, he also took the course of law. He dedicated a lot of time and efforts towards learning the various laws, rules and regulations soon to become an expert in understanding the ID Act and other labour laws through his inspiring commitment and efforts. While on one hand, while understanding the nitty-gritty’s associated with the Labour laws, he has also been able to effectively apply the understanding to bring benefits to loco running staff. 

The historic decision of the Labour Ministry to categorise the loco running staff’s work as ‘intensive’, came as a result of the selfless and pioneering efforts of Com.RSP, on behalf of AILRSA. The verdict on dearness pay by the Labour Court, was also made possible because of his sincere effort, correct understanding and proper interpretation of Labour Laws. He travelled extensively on behalf of the union to motivate and to mobilise Loco running staff and had appeared in many labour cases as ‘authorised person’ on behalf of AILRSA. He has been instrumental in many land-mark achievements of the Union and his wise counsel helped in advancing and working-out progressive demands. 

He lived his entire life as a brave fighter with at-most simplicity. His adorable record in Trade Union activities, which very few can match, endeared him to all railway employees. Ignoring his advancing age, ill-health and family-life, he continued the self-less struggle for the betterment of his fellow being. The Untiring fighting spirit, total commitment to AILRSA, passion for the cause of fellow-workmen, dedication, perseverance and progressive mind-set, are the legacies of this great man. 

Com. RSP was a life of sacrifice, simplicity and frugal living which left an indelible imprint on the progressive and working class movement in Railway. He set an example which has inspired thousands of railway men. Com. RSP was a legend in his lifetime, who was adored and respected by all sections of the railway-men. 

AILRSA pays respectful homage to his memory.


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