More than 4000 loco drivers of Indian Railways took out a protest rally on 18th February from Ambedkar Bhavan in Rani Jhansi Road to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The protest was organised under the leadership of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) in support of the long-standing pending demands of the locomen.
The rally culminated in a mass meeting in which loco drivers from 68 divisions of 17 zones participated.
Tapan Sen, Gen Secretary of CITU initiated the mass meeting. General Secretary of AILRSA – M.N.Prasad, General Secretary of NFIR – Ragviah, Giriraj Singh from NFPE, K.C. James, C.K.Sarkar, M.P.Dev, K.A.S Mani, Ram Saran, A.K Ruthe, D.S. Koparkar and several other leaders addressed the meeting.
M.N. Prasad and several other speakers elaborated the principal demands of the campaign. They explained that although the Railway Board had proposed that a running allowance of 30% of wages and TA according to the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, the Finance Department is delaying the implementation of this recommendation. The loco drivers have had to demonstrate for their demands again and again before the Railway Administration. Even now, the loco drivers are forced to agitate for the weekly off, limit to two continuous nights of duty, grade pay, and leave for family and social obligations and such like demands.
The main demands raised in the meeting were: fixed running allowance, equal pension for those employees who retired before 2016 and those retiring at present, recall of the New Pension Scheme and keeping the previous pension scheme going, implementation of the various recommendations of the HPC and Security Committee and halt to privatisation of the Indian Railways.
The speakers announced that if the fixed running allowance was not awarded by 31st March and if no steps are taken on the other principal demands, then the protest campaign may be started any day.