October 28, 2020
The vital importance of the Indian Railways as a state entity and the immense contribution of workers working 24x7x365 days towards running the economy of our country has come out most starkly and clearly during the ongoing Corona Pandemic. With the entire nation in lockdown mode the railwaymen were answering the call of duty by efficiently running “COVID SPECIALS” ensuring that critical medical equipment, food, medicines, oil and other essentials were reaching all corners of our country in a timely manner. Subsequently “SHRAMIK SPECIALS” were also operated to transport the lakhs of migrant workers back home. In this remarkable and brave effort out of the 13 lakh workers, more than 14,000 tested positive for covid and more than 360 have lost their lives. This average of affliction and casualty among railwaymen are higher than the respective all-India figures.
The real estate assets of the Indian Railways across the country, including at prime urban agglomerations can be valued by conservative estimates at lakhs of crores. Also, unlike any other PSUs it is the single biggest employer in the country. The current value of its rolling stock, including newly acquired state of the art high powered locomotives and coaches alone is pegged at 60 lakh crores. These phenomenal assets along with a highly trained and motivated workforce has been built on the sweat and blood of lakhs of rail workers and people’s money over a glorious history of more than 165 years! Inspite of having to bear huge social costs by way of heavily subsidised fares and having to operate on loss making and economically unviable sections, the railways have been providing reliable, safe and affordable rail travel which is one of the basic duties of the state. The present government therefore has absolutely no right to hand it over to private operators for their private profit! On the contrary the sustained improvement and expansion of the railway network is the need of the hour as it is linked to the country’s progress and development and therefore cannot be handed over to private operators who have “profit at all cost” as the sole motive.
The Railway Ministry has announced its intent and plans to introduce 150 private trains on select and profitable 109 routes. A mere perusal of these routes reveal that all revenue earning routes are selectively being handed to private operators leaving the loss making sections with the railways. It also has announced plans to hand over 30% of goods traffic and 30% of Railway stations to private operators including the iconic world heritage Mumbai CSMT station.
The organisations of rail workers, representing the railway workers as well as people’s organisations, are determined to come together to oppose in a big way the Governments plan to privatise the Indian Railways. Many meetings in this direction are taking place all over India.
On 10th October 2020, a National Convention on “Save Railways, Save Nation” was held. It was addressed by National leaders of AIRF, NFIR, SRMU, SREU, DREU, AILRSA, AISMA, ICF and LPF who called on workers of Indian Railways to unite against privatisation.
On 21st of September 2020, Kamgar Ekta Committee organised a National Convention against privatisation of Indian Railways. This was addressed by National leaders of AILRSA, AIGC, AISMA, AITCA, IRTCSO, IRS & TSMU, AIRTU and AIREC. At this conference a call was given to form joint committees at branch, division, zone and national levels, involving all the representatives of all the railway workers with the agenda of “UNITE AGAINST PRIVATISATION”. It was also resolved at this meeting to take this struggle to the people of India and bring in people’s organisations as well as political parties to oppose the privatisation of Indian Railways. It was also decided to build a broad based unity across all public sector undertakings under threat of privatisation such as Railways, Banks, Air India, BPCL, Coal India, Ordnance Factories, Education and Health sectors, etc.
Many other meetings have taken place all over India before these two recent meetings.
In view of all of the above, we the following Rail Organisations, representing railway workers across the country as well as other people’s organisations, have resolved to come together to jointly oppose the privatisation of Indian Railways and also seek the support of all other organisations fighting against privatisation.
- Shri Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, AIRF
- Shri M. Raghavaiah, General Secretary, NFIR
- Shri M.N. Prasad, Secretary General, AILRSA
- Shri S.P. Singh, General Secretary, AIGC
- Shri Sunil Kumar.P, Secretary General, AISMA
- Shri Varaprasad, Secretary General, All India Train Controllers Association
- Shri Narender Panchal, National President, AIRTU
- Shri Hemant Soni, General Secretary, IRTCSO
- Shri A.K. Shrivastav, Zonal Secretary, AIREC
- Shri A. Mathew, Secretary, Kamgar Ekta Committee