On 15th July, 2021, the drivers of Indian Railways, protested all across the country, under the banner of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA). Protests were held at the station lobbies of different divisions of railways – Banaras, Gorakhpur, Mau, Chhapra, Lucknow, Bareilly, Allahabad, Hajipur, Sonpur, Muzaffarpur and Barauni etc. In many places, processions were taken out on railway platforms, in which women railway drivers took part in large numbers.
Railway drivers had organized this protest program to oppose the ongoing privatization in the Indian Railways and to get their long-pending demands fulfilled. As per the decision of its Central Executive, this campaign of protests all over the country, was organized by AILRSA. As per the call of the Central Executive, a protest week would be observed from 10th July-15th July, and all the drivers would hold such protests and demonstrations in their respective locations. It was decided that workers will protest on 15th July 15th marking it as a Black Day. It was also decided to send a letter to the Railway Minister with their signatures in support of their long-pending demands.
Railway drivers signed an inland letter in support of their legitimate demands and sent it to the Railway-Minister. This campaign was organized at all Railway Headquarters all across the country – Phulera, Jaipur, Bandikui, Anara, etc.
Com. Ramsaran, a member of the Central Executive, said that the government is hell-bent to pursue privatization of Indian Railways, but the railway drivers are also determined to continue their militant struggle against it. Thousands of posts are lying vacant in railways but instead of recruiting for these posts, the government is over-exploiting the existing employees. It is our demand that all the vacant posts should be filled immediately. Long pending and present demands of railway drivers should be immediately accepted and acted upon.
Protest letters were handed over to the railway officials in all the locations.
The main demands included in their protest letters are as follows:
- Stop privatisation of railways
- Withdraw the amendment made in the labour-laws
- Stop giving trolley bags instead of tool boxes
- Implement the old pension scheme and abolish the NPS
- Cancel the order to freeze Dearness Allowance (DA) and Relief Allowance (DR)
- Eliminate the ceiling on the Night Duty Allowance (NDA), and pay the NDA due to all running employees
- Pay 30 per cent of the basic pay to the running staff as the kilometer-running allowance as the trains stopped running for the period of lockdown announced during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Stop duty extension beyond 9 hours
- Ensure return to headquarters in 36 hours
- Stop the movement of goods train by the drivers of passenger trains
- Grant a special casual leave under the orders of the Railways, to the railway drivers and assistant railway drivers who are stuck during the lockdown
- Fill vacant posts immediately.