The All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) and the All India Guards Council (AIGC) have decided to go on a 36 hour hunger strike on 25 and 26 April 2017. Through this hunger strike, they plan to highlight the grievances of the running staff of trains on a number of issues including the recommendations of the Seventh pay Commission on wages and allowances for different grades of the running staff. The central leadership of these two organisations will sit on hunger strike in front of Parliament in New Delhi while the running staff of the different divisions will protest at the Divisional headquarters.
Ever since the Central Government notified the 7th Pay Commission on July 25th 2016, the running staff (Guards and Engine Drivers) of the Indian Railways have been protesting against various discriminatory policies pursued by the Government. Following protests from different sections of government employees including rail workers, the government had set up two committees to look into their grievances. These were the Allowances Committee and the Anomalies Committee.
The railway running staff have presented their grievances to both these committees. These include the fact that Goods Guards are not given stressful duty allowance or adequate uniform washing allowance. They have pointed out how guards of goods trains have to operate alone from their cabin without provision of even basic facilities such as light and fan.
There are other long standing problems faced by the running staff. These include long hours of employment, with no breaks. The conditions of work of loco drivers and guards have become increasingly stressful, as the railways are refusing to fill vacancies by hiring new staff, resulting in enormous increase in workload on the loco drivers and guards. In these conditions, the number of accidents and near accidents have been increasing. The running staff of the railways have been raising the long standing demand that the safety of the travelling public must take topmost priority. For this the signalling system should be the most advanced, and tracks should be regularly checked. Further, the workload on loco drivers and guards must take into account the highly stressful nature of their work. The unions of the running staff have also been raising the issue of danger of hiring unskilled and untrained contract workers for duties such as line maintenance.
Meanwhile, as a result of persistent struggle of the All India Guards Council, the Railway Board has been forced to give enhanced retirement benefits to the retired guards and engine drivers of the Railways.
MEL supports the just struggles waged by the Guards and Drivers of the Indian Railways led by AIGC and AILRSA.