Under the leadership of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), thousands of engine drivers marched from Ambedkar Bhavan to Jantar Mantar in Delhi on 19th February 2020. Many engine drivers had come with their families.
A day prior to this, the Central Working Committee of the AILRSA was also held. Rail drivers from all divisions of the Indian Railway participated in these programs.
The rail drivers have been agitating for last several years to press for improvement in their working conditions and to oppose their exploitation. Simultaneously, they have been intensifying their struggle to oppose the privatisation and corponationalisation of Indian Railway.
Speakers addressing the public meeting said that AILRSA is resolutely opposing the privatisation that is being carried out in Indian Railway. They said that they are totally against the running of some 500 private trains under the privatisation agenda of the Indian Government. These trains will be run by private operators and the rail drivers will be not be given any facilities and these will not even be useful for the passengers.
We have already seen the experience of privatisation of railway in other countries in which running of railway had to be returned to the government. Government should take note of this and reverse its policy of privatisation of railway.
Speakers said that we are opposing the amendments that are being brought in the labour laws. Under the amended laws, workers will have no right to form their unions and organisations. These are against the democratic rights and the right to livelihood of the people. We demand that government takes back these policies.
Those who addressed the gathering included President of AILRSA, Comrade M N Prasad, Comrade Tapan Sen from Center for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Comrade Ramsaran, N B Dutta, R R Bhagat, L Moni, Jeet Singh Tank, M M Roli and T C James and others.
The office bearers of AILRSA submitted a petition to the Railway Minister, Piyush Goel, in which they have raised the following demands:
1. Revise running allowance as per RAC 1980 formula and pay arrears with effect freom 1st January 2016.
2. Scrap NPS and restore old pension system.
3. Reduce duty hours to 10 hrs in 2020 as recommended by HPC, reduce to 8 hours with statutory limit to 90 hours in a phased manner.
4. Allow 16 + 30 hours PR as ordered by Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka.
5. Allow L6 pay to ALP and distinct higher levels to Loco Pilots. Declare equivalent non running scales.
6. Restore the limit of consecutive night duties to two.
7. Stop privatization.