Guards on East Coast Railway unite to improve their conditions
From Nov 30th to Dec 8th 2018, a team of Central Office Bearers, the representative body of the Guards of the Indian Railways led by Com. A.K. Srivastava, All India Secretary of All India Guards’ Council (AIGC), toured the East Coast Railway, which covers the coast of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, with the aim of uniting the guards in this region to improve their working conditions. The tour covered various Railway junctions in this region - Sambalpur, Talcher, Paradeep, Khurda Road, Puri, Vishakhapatnam, etc. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar’s Mumbai Correspondent spoke to Com. A.K.Srivastava, in this context and we are presenting a Report of the information provided by him.
During this tour several startling facts came out highlighting the poor working conditions of the guards of this railway. It was revealed that the norms laid down by the commercial manual of the Indian Railways are being blatantly flouted and exposing the goods guards to severe risks of particles of coal, iron ore and other material entering their bodies. One of the goods guards had his face permanently disfigured due to the excessive inhalation of these materials. This gross violation of safety norms is committed by the biggest corporations – of the government and private sector.
For example, Paradeep is a port town with major industries from both the public and the private sectors located in and around it, such as Indian Farmers and Fertilisers Cooperative Ltd., Essar Steel, Paradeep Phosphate Ltd. These giant companies situated here have their own railway networks inside their plant premises which are connected to the Indian Railways network outside, both for delivering raw materials and taking out finished goods from these factories. The goods transported into and out of the plants are coal, fertilisers, iron ore, etc.
Running rooms are rest rooms used by guards and engine drivers during breaks in their duty. Puri, which is known for its historic Jagannath temple and visited by millions of Indians every year has a running room that is 1 Km away from the railway station. To reach the running room, the guards and drivers have to go through the numerous railway tracks coming and going from this busy station. This is quite dangerous, especially since they would be already tired after a long day or night’s work. As per the law, it is illegal for anyone to cross the railway tracks without written permission. However the authorities here are themselves forcing their own guards and drivers to cross the tracks and endanger their lives!
Com A. K. Srivastava reported to our Correspondent that he told the guards that it is only their united struggle which can force the railway authorities to prevent this malpractice. He gave a call to the guards to rally behind AIGC and fight to redress these and other issues facing the guards of the East Coast.
During the trip hundreds of guards attended the meetings of the AIGC and renewed their membership as well as enrolled as new members. They pledged to unitedly fight to force the authorities to improve their working conditions.
MEL fully supports the just demands of the AIGC and calls on the Indian Railways to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well being of its guards.