Motormen of Western Railway have been continuously agitating against the action taken against motormen by the management under the SPAD rules. SPAD (signal passing at Danger) rule means that if a motorman takes the train beyond a red signal, even by mistake, he is immediately suspended from service.
Motormen of Western Railway have been continuously agitating against the action taken against motormen by the management under the SPAD rules. SPAD (signal passing at Danger) rule means that if a motorman takes the train beyond a red signal, even by mistake, he is immediately suspended from service. This draconian rule , which applies to engine drivers all over India,has been a continuous cause of heartburn for hundreds of motormen who have been suspended, lost their increment or even lost their jobs. However due to the militant unity of WRMA, whenever any motorman on the local trains on the Western Railway is suspended under this rule, the workers threaten to go on strike and this forces the authorities to reinstate the motorman. The latest actions were at the beginning of this month in January and on March 24th 2014 , whereupon suspended motormen were reinstated.
On March 24, 2014, hundreds of motormen sat on a day long dharna at Churchgate station, demanding reinstatement of two suspended motormen, full increments to 8 motormen whose increments had been suspended, because of SPAD; they also demanded an assistant motorman. WRMA had made many placards at the venue, which explained the difficult conditions under which they have to work. Thousands of commuters stood and read the posters and listened to the speeches of the leaders of the motormen.
Com Devendra Yadav, leader of the WRMA, while addressing the gathering, including motormen and passersby , said that because of the pressure of the agitating motormen, two suspended motormen had been reinstated. However there were 8 motormen who had their increments stopped because of SPAD and he warned that if the authorities did not give them their full due increments then the motormen would resort to further action. He also said that the motorman is alone in hauling 5000 passengers and this was a cause for concern for passenger-safety. If anything should happen to the motorman, what would happen to the thousands of people he was carrying? He pointed out that even for shunting an engine, a driver and his assistant are involved. Then why is the railways refusing to provide an assistant to the motorman?
He reminded everyone that 23rd March was Shahid Bhagat Singhs’ martyrdom day and he recalled the great martyr’s prophetic words “Our struggle is not just against the British, but afterward if Kaale Angrez rule India, then we have to struggle against them also” He said it was this Kaale Angrez who had plotted to have him killed. He said in India today there is no justice for workers. He said even today the Govt has not declared Bhagat Singh a Shahid, because he stood for revolution. What is wrong if somebody stands for revolution, asked Com Devendra Yadav? Com Yadav asked for support from the public for the struggle of the motormen. HE said they are not fighting for themselves, but for the safety of the public. He said the motorman has to work under extremely harsh conditions, 365 days of the year, without an assistant motorman. On top of this, workers had to face action under SPAD. This had forced some motormen to even commit suicide. He also said that there were traitorous unions who were collaborating with the management. He denounced them. He reminded the audience that the Kaale Angrez, i.e., today’s rulers were looting India and taking the wealth abroad. He said the working class has no representatives in Parliament. The peasants have no representative in Parliament and that is why they are forced to commit suicide.
He warned the authorities that if the demands of the motormen were not met by April 1st, 2014, they would go on an indefinite protest.
Com Mathew of Kamgar Ekta Committee(KEC) greeted the motormen and said that KEC and Lok Raj Sangathan(LRS) had always supported the struggle of the motormen and also distributed thousands of leaflets to the traveling public explaining the problems of the motormen. We had also written to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as Railway Minister, with signatures of many trade unions of Mumbai supporting the demands of the motormen.
He saluted the brave motormen and denounced the authorities for not solving their long standing issues. He also reminded every one of the recent death of 4 gangmen in November 2013 and lately 2 more gangmen had died while on duty. He said that this was because of the Railway management’s criminal policy of not recruiting and filling up the vacancies of gangmen. Similarly there were 17000 vacant posts for engine drivers , and large number of posts for guards, station masters etc. He called on the motormen to work to build the unity of the railway workers. It was the united struggle of the railway workers with the engine drivers in the forefront which led to the historic railway strike of 1974 and so scared the rulers, the Kaale Angrez, that they had to declare an emergency. Ever since then , scared of the spectre of unity of railway workers, they have systematically worked to divide the workers by pitting one section against another, having multiple unions and in many different ways . He said it is only the railway workers themselves who would have to build their unity once more. If the railway workers of India unite, the rest of the working class will not be far off he said.
Following this, several other leaders of the motormen also addressed the workers.