Respected Shri Piyush Goyal,
Sub: Certain important issues related to the Railwaymen – Early redressal sought for
While thankful for fixing date for discussion on 28th December, 2017, we wish to avail this privilege to draw your kind attention towards certain important issues related to Railway’s working and in respect of certain problems of the Railwaymen which needs to be redressed on priority as the same are pending for quite some time, agitating the minds of the Railway employees.
It is our motto and sacred duty to carry the travelling public to their destination safely. In this regard Railways had appointed number of Accident Enquiry Committees, and the latest being headed by Dr. Anil Kakodkar. The recommendations of the committee, headed by Dr. Anil Kakodkar, are yet to be implemented. The main thrust of the recommendations are modernization of the Railways, expansion of line capacity, supply of Standard and Branded materials, spares and equipments, filling-up of vacancies in the Safety Categories within a period of three months, sanction of additional staff for additional train services and additional workload without insisting of “Matching Saving”, intensification of training facilities, etc. etc.
About 1.5 lakh posts in the Safety Categories have been lying vacant, additional manpower has not been sanctioned for additional train services and additional workload. Unfortunately, instead of filling-up of vacancies, orders have been issued from the Railway Board to re-engage Retired Employees up to 65 years of age, which will be counter-productive.
2. Seventh Central Pay Commission
The report of the Seventh Central Pay Commission has belied the hope of the Railwaymen, causing serious resentment among the Railway employees. Your predecessor, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, took an initiative to avoid the confrontation, and different committees were appointed by the government in a bid to settle the issues in respect of Minimum Wage, Pay Fixation Formula, Allowances, Pension/Family Pension and National Pension System(NPS) etc. Unfortunately, injustice in those matters is still persisting. In respect of National Pension System(NPS), both the Ex. Railway Ministers, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge and Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, had recommended to the Finance Minister that, the Old System of Pension and Family Pension should continue, irrespective of date of appointment of the Railwaymen. We sincerely hope that, you will kindly take necessary initiatives to settle the pending issues.
3. Grievances of the Running Staff
The Running Staff of the Indian Railways, who operate all kinds of passengers and freight trains, right from Goods to Superfast/Mail/Express, Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Durotonto, Hamsafar, etc. etc., are definitely frontline staff. Their Duty Hours, Hours of Rest, Working Conditions, Conditions of the Running Rooms are still not up to the mark despite sustained persuasions by the organized labour. Apart from this, the rates of the Kilometrage Allowance and other allowances related to the Loco & Traffic Running Staff are yet to be revised while revision of the Daily Allowance etc. after implementation of the VII CPC recommendations, has since been done. Their pay-scales also need to be rationalized to a satisfactory level because this is also a cause of discontentment among the vulnerable categories of staff. These issues are being deliberated by AIRF regularly with the Railway Board, but fruitful outcome is yet to be evolved, as such needs your kind intervention.
4. Continuance of the LARSGESS all over, except jurisdiction of the respective High Courts We have already made a reference to the Member Staff, Railway Board, on this issue, explaining that, Safety Related Retirement Scheme was introduced, vide Railway Board’s letter No.E(P&A)I-2001/RT-2(KW) dated 02.01.2004, after lots of deliberations regarding safety of the Railways. Subsequently, while presenting Rail Budget, Hon’ble Minister for Railways had announced, on the floor of the Parliament, that, Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme would be extended and implemented by the Railway Board in a biggest perspective. The scheme has been renamed as “Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Staff (LARSGESS)” and circulated vide Railway Board’s letter No.E(P&A)I-2010/RT-2 dated 11.09.2010. The scheme has infused new blood in exchange of old one and motivated the staff to give their best for ensuring safety of the travelling public. The scheme has withstood the best of time in many High Courts as well. In this connection, the judgement delivered by Hon’ble Patna High Court on 29.06.2015(against Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.7926 of 2015, quashing the orders of Patna CAT) may please be referred to. It is urged that, the scheme be allowed to continue at least in the states where either Hon’ble High Court did not intervene or Hon’ble High Court has allowed its continuance.
5. Absorption of the Course Completed Act Apprentices in the Railways
The Indian Railways, having quite large quantum of technical services, has to impart training, as “Skill Development”, to a defined number of candidates, as mandatory under the Apprentices Act. There has been a tradition to absorb the Course Completed Act Apprentices, who had undergone Apprenticeship Training in various Railway Installations against vacancies in the Safety Categories. These Course Completed Act Apprentices, when absorbed in the Railways, have proved their worth being a skilled workforce trained in the Railway workings in different Engineering Disciplines, particularly Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and S&T. During the last two/three years this practice has been discontinued, which is not in the interest of the Railway Industry. Fortunately, the NDA Government, while affecting amendments in the Apprentices Act, has provided for, making rules by the enterprises, imparting training under Apprentices Act, to absorb the Course Completed Act Apprentices in their respective installations. Railway Board, after sustained persuasions, have only issued instructions to engage the Course Completed Act Apprentices, imparted training in the Railways, against 20% Direct Recruitment Quota in the erstwhile Group `D’ vide Board’s letter No.E(NG)II/2016/RR-1/8 dated 21.06.2016(RBE No.71/2016).
It may be appreciated that, the candidates, who are imparted training under the Apprentices Act in the Railways, have to undergo the process of selection at the time of their engagement for training, and further they have to pass all the exams conducted during their training and timely had to clear the exams conducted by the NCVT on completion of training, and after being declared successful in the same exam, their training is supposed to be completed, as such there has been a practice of conducting a formal screening at the time of their regular absorption in the Railways. AIRF, therefore, is of the considered opinion that, the procedure that had been in vogue prior to
issuance of Railway Board’s letter supra should be allowed to continue to absorb in the Railways in
he larger interest of Railway Safety.
6. Absorption of the quasi-administrative offices staff in the Railways
Quasi-administrative offices staff were being absorbed in the Railways since 1977, but of late those staff are not being absorbed in the Railways, causing deprivation and serious hardship to the employees appointed in the quasi-administrative offices of the Railways. It is, therefore, urged that, those staff should be absorbed in the Railways.
7. Closure of the Railway Printing Presses
Of late, Railway Printing Presses have been catering the requirement of printed materials required in different forms in the Indian Railways. Apart from this, all kinds of passenger tickets and other money value books are also printed in these Railway Printing Presses. On a demand raised by this federation, Railway Board have agreed to modernize a number of Railway Printing Presses to equip them with the latest technology to cope-up with the present need of printing. During recently held meeting with the Railway Board, it has been informed to the federation that, the process of modernization of the Railway Printing Presses is in progress and is likely to be completed in a couple of months.
AIRF, therefore, is of the considered view that, owing to money value involve in a number of printed materials, like Ticket Rolls, Blank Paper Ticket, Excess Fare Ticket, Railway Passes and PTOs, outsourcing of these items may lead to serious monetary misappropriation, causing substantial revenue loss of the Railways. As such, the prevalent practice of getting these important money value items printed in the Railway Printing Presses should continue, and for this purpose Railway Printing Presses should also be equipped with the modern technology rather than closing them.
8. Closure of Parel Workshop of Central Railway
Parel Workshop of Central Railway is located at a prime location, and this Workshop was established way back in the year 1879. This is spread over 47 acres of land. A Railway Colony is also situated in the vicinity of the said Workshop, covering an area of around 15 acres of land, wherein thousands of Railwaymen and their family members, including school going children and aged parents, are residing. Sudden closure of this Workshop will directly hurt around 3,000 staff working in this Workshop, and their families would also be uprooted, who are residing there for decades.
Here it is worth to point it out that, workers of Parel Workshop have always adopted all the technologies advised by the high-ups. Since this issue is of prime importance, involving the staff matters, it would not be proper to take any arbitrary decision without consulting the organized labour. This federation, therefore, urges upon not to take any arbitrary decision without considering the pros and cones and far reaching consequences of closure of Parel Workshop of Central Railway, and this issue be discussed threadbare with the federation before taking any further
decision in the matter.
9. Shifting of Central Railway Headquarters Building and its conversion into World Class Rail Museum
You may appreciate that, the present Central Railway Headquarters building was constructed for the sole purpose of the administrative centre of the then GIP Railway, which later on became the Headquarters of Central Railway. This heritage building definitely stands as the epitome of the Railway history, used by the eminent personalities who discharge as the Head of this zone and have contributed immensely towards all out development of the Railway Industry. Shifting this office from the present historical building would not only cause a lot of inconveniences to the
Railway employees employed therein as also crores of rupees would be spent in construction of new building for the purpose elsewhere. If at all, a Rail Museum to be opened in the said building, Ground Floor of the same may be utilized for this purpose and the other floors should be allowed to continue as the Headquarters of Central Railway.
11. Improvement in the medical facilities
The Railwaymen have been working in the remote places and far-flung areas. They have to keep themselves fit in medical classification to perform their duties at a desired level, right from appointment to retirement. The Indian Railways have set-up hospitals and dispensaries. These hospitals should be provided with modern equipments, and Medical Practioners in various disciplines need to be appointed. It is urged that, there should be continuous efforts to maintain and upkeep them, so that, the Railwaymen and their family members can get reasonable facilities in respect of their healthcare.
Apart from the above, the decision taken for the Mobile Medical Vans in each Division must be implemented religiously to cater the needs of the staff working on the roadside stations or along the track where other medical facilities are not available. There is also a popular demand of all the Serving and Retired Railway Employees that, they should get Cashless Smart Cards for their treatment anywhere in emergencies. It is also unfortunate that, in spite of announcement in the Budget Speech of Hon’ble Minister for Railways, the decision for treatment of the parents in the Railway Hospitals has not been started and is being shelved.
12. Deployment of the wards of the Railwaymen as “Gate Mitras” at the Unmanned Level Crossings
AIRF has been totally against deployment of the “Gate Mitras” on the Unmanned Level Crossings because this would result in shouldering of unwarranted responsibility for the Railways. However, in case “Gate Mitras” are deputed on the Unmanned Level Crossings, the wards of the Track Maintainers, Gatemen and other Operating Staff, working in lower pay-scales, be considered to be utilized as “Gate Mitras”, looking their availability and loyalty. Reportedly, the Indian Railways is also proposing to depute some outsiders with the Patrolman as a companion. In the interest of safety and security, AIRF is of the opinion that, this dangerous move to Railway Safety must not be done, and in case of shortage, the wards of the Railwaymen be considered to accompany the Patrolman rather than any outsider.
Each and every Railway Minister expressed opinion that, the Railways cannot be privatized. But gradually perennial nature jobs in the Railways are being outsourced in violation of the provisions of the Contract Labour(Regulation & Abolition) Act. It is urged that, perennial nature jobs in the Railways should be manned by the regular Railway employees only; in the larger interest of safe train operation.
14. Non-implementation of the recommendations of the Trackmen Committee
It is a matter of regret that, unanimous recommendations of the Trackmen Committee are not implemented in true sprit to increase happiness factor amongst more than three lakh hardworking Track Maintainers in all weathers, as well large number sacrificing their lives while maintaining the tracks. It was agreed that, their percentage distribution will be made 10:20:20:50, but in spite of assurance given in the last DC/JCM Meeting, nothing is being done. It was also agreed that, to facilitate the education of their children, transit hostels will be provided to their wards and families at appropriate towns and cities, but has not been processed yet. Similarly, nothing has been done
for improving their gate lodges and weight of tools has also not been reduced as was agreed. Nothing has been done to provide them electronic cover for their safety while they are on the job.
15. Employees’ Charter
The employees in general are happy with the issuance of orders for fulfilling the demands of the employees within the given time. This has been the demand of AIRF from the last two decades, had been considered by the Railway Ministry, but at the same time it is also essential for filling the vacancies of the Ministerial and Accounts Staff who are responsible for implementation of the Employees’ Charter. AIRF also requests that, similar view should also be taken on the demands of the federation and orders should be issued to consider them within the reasonable time period. We sincerely hope that, the issues raised herein above would be considered with all seriousness and your
goodself would take appropriate action to redress these genuine grievance of the Railwaymen, so that, they are able to discharge their duties in a healthy environment.
With Kind Regards!
Shri Piyush Vedprakash Goyal,
Hon’ble Minister for Railways,
Ministry of Railways,
Copy to: General Secretaries, all affiliated unions – for information.
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