Support the just demand of Station Masters, Loco-pilots and other Railway workers!

Immediately revoke the unjust dismissal of Railway employees!

Throughout the month of March,2024 Indian Railway workers of various departments carried out many agitations across all zones of the country for various demands like immediate halt to privatization of Indian Railways, implementation of OPS, filling up of all vacancies, duty hours as per Hours of Work and Period of Rest (HOER) rules of  the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, improvement in working conditions, immediate reversal of the unjust disciplinary authority-imposed punishment to certain employees, etc.

Station masters protest in 2021 (file photo)

The Station Masters under the leadership of the All India Station Masters’ Association (AISMA) and the Loco-pilots under the leadership of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) held many demonstration meetings across the country denouncing the unjust dismissal of their colleagues without proper enquiry after a recent incident. On 5th March Loco pilots and Station Masters protested all across the country and submitted memoranda to their respective branch authorities demanding the reversal of the action. The Northern Railway Men’s Union also demanded an early review of the order. AISMA and AILRSA have also written to the Chairman, Railway Board demanding immediate cancellation of the illegal penal action.

On February 25, 2024, an unmanned freight train rolled down from Kathua railway station in Jammu, in the Northern Railway, for a distance of 84 km before being finally halted. The railway administration was quick to give the harshest punishment of removal from service under the D&A Rules 14/II of Indian Railways to 4 railway employees, namely a Loco Pilot, Assistant Loco Pilot, Station Master and a Pointsman. They were not even given a proper chance to represent themselves.

The said rules categorically state that no permanent railway employee against whom an enquiry is started can be denied permission to submit his/her defense. The rule clearly states that unless the disciplinary authority finds it impracticable to hold an enquiry, enquiry as per procedure cannot be dispensed with. It also states that in case enquiry is dispensed with then the reasons must be recorded in writing. The AISMA letter points out that the Sr.DOM / FZR has fallaciously stated that it is not reasonably practicable to hold an enquiry in the tense atmosphere and evidences / record of this incident can be fudged to mislead the enquiry. On the basis of this false justification, the accused railway employees were refused to give an opportunity to present their case.

Railway workers have very correctly demanded an immediate reversal of the “removal from service” order. Not only that but they have demanded a thorough investigation of the incident so that the root causes due to which the “roll over” incident happened get exposed.

In case of this specific incident many glaring wrong doings of the railway administration are being pointed out, making it very clear that the incident was entirely caused due to the heavy pressure put on the railway employees by the administration, violating all the safety norms and standard procedures for safe stabling of loaded goods wagons. 53 goods wagons without a brake van (BV) and a brake power certificate (BPC) were allowed for ballast loading at Kathua Railway Station. Then the order was given for the ballast train to move, well knowing that the train doesn’t have BPC & BV and without arranging for a Train Manager (TM).

The train formation which was stabled in a siding with isolation was shunted to the main line, which doesn’t have isolation, without the supervision of the TM, while there was a single points-man on duty.

Such a wanton disregard of safety norms is not an exception. For example the running staff of the Northern Railway complains that the authorities even today force the crew to run trains on the main line without connecting the Brake Pipes (BP) pipes. This is in complete violation of the General and Subsidiary Rules (G&SR) of the Indian Railways which specify that without the requisite brake power, the train cannot be started.

The AILRSA General Secretary, Northern Railway was himself booked for refusing to shunt a full formation of a loaded petroleum tanker train without attaching the BP pipe. Hence there is every reason to conclude that the railway administration does not want to hold an enquiry in Kathua incident because it wants to hide the real reason which caused the incident.

Whenever any railway accident happens the railway administration very quickly blames the railway workers. But many enquiry committees have squarely pointed out that the lack of adequate and trained manpower leading to extremely stressful working conditions is the root cause for most of the accidents. The Railway Ministry very shamelessly presented in parliament that in the Indian Railways there are more than 2.9 lakh vacancies. Instead of taking necessary recruitment on a very urgent basis, the Railway Ministry is hell bent on urgently surrendering tens of thousands of posts. That is why all the railway workers are raising filling up of all vacancies as one of their main demands.

Filling up of all vacancies is also necessary to ensure safety of passengers and railway workers.

MEL fully supports the just demand of railway workers that the unjust dismissal from service of 4 workers be immediately reversed. MEL also demands that all the vacancies in the Indian Railways should be immediately filled up by permanent employees.

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