Rail drivers protest across the country against privatization

Demonstration in Bilaspur

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Demonstration in Bilaspur

On 10th August 2021, the members of the All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) organized a protest over their 17-point demands. These protests were organized in about 650 lobbies of 16 zones of railways across the country. Despite the demonstration being declared illegal by the railway administration, more than 7,000 loco drivers took part in these protests organized across the country.

Demonstration in Chakradharpur, Jharkand

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Protest demonstration in Chakradharpur in Jharkhand

According to Com. Ramsaran, a member of the Central Executive of the AILRSA, a circular was issued on 5th August by the Railway Administration to stop this protest. It said that A.I.L.R.S.A. is not a recognized union and therefore the protest organized by this organization is declared illegal. It has been said in the circular that no running staff will be given leave. No employee is allowed to leave his H.Q. and if he does so, then strict action will be taken against him under sections 173, 174 and 175 of the Railway Act, 1989. Despite this threatening circular, thousands of loco drivers across the country successfully organized protests in various cities.

Demonstration in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh

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Demonstration in Muradabad, UP

According to the press release issued by the organization, the loco drivers enthusiastically participated in these programs, at each crew lobby of the different rail divisions.
Rail drivers demonstrated in lobbies of other states, including Delhi, as in Panipat, Rohtak, Ghaziabad, Tughlakabad, Meerut, Sarai Rohilla, Shakurbasti, Moradabad, Gorakhpur, Banaras, Mau, Chhapra, Bareilly, Allahabad, Hajipur, Sonpur, Muzaffarpur and Barauni, etc.

Demonstration in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

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Protest demonstration in Ghaziabad, UP

Addressing the meetings held in these lobbies, the leaders said that despite heavy pressure and threats from the railway administration, the loco drivers steadfastly and boldly demonstrated, according to the rules. The government is bent on privatization of railways, but the loco staff are also firm on taking their struggle forward against privatization. Thousands of posts are lying vacant in the railways, but instead of recruiting for these posts, the government is over-exploiting the existing employees. All vacant posts should be filled immediately. Night allowance should be allowed again because there is a lot of resentment among the railway drivers on the cancellation of night allowance.

Apart from this, there were protests in all the respective lobbies in other states of the country – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, etc.,

The main demands raised by rail drivers are:

  • Stop privatization of public sector units including railways
  • Do not hand over the 15 Sports Stadium RLDA
  • Cancel the Financial Bid Schedule of the trains immediately
  • Fill all vacant posts immediately
  • Reduce the duty hours of the running staff to 8 hours
  • Remove ceiling on night duty allowance
  • Abolish the New Pension Scheme and include all the employees appointed after January 1, 2004 in the old pension scheme
  • Provide relief to the crew of non-stop goods trains every 5 to 6 hours; they are carrying out work of very intense nature without any break or rest
  • Do not close the 77 Divisional Hospitals/Sub-Divisional Hospitals
  • Sanction 35 percent increase in additional goods train drivers (LPG) posts due to an increase in goods train traffic,
  • Expedite the training of Assistant Drivers (ALPs) with the resumption of passenger services
  • Stop taking back the line box
  • Improve in running room facilities
  • Pay compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the families of those who died from COVID-19 and expedited payment of pension benefits and compassionate appointments to the children of the victims
  • Stop EOTT Operations of unsafe trains with no guards, without brake vans, without BPC etc
  • Revise the running allowance with the mean pay of 30% of LPP
  • Fix the equivalent of each running-pay-scale, non-running-pay-scale while appointing medically unclassified running staff to alternate posts
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