Country-wide relay hunger strike and demonstrations by Railway workers

Rail drivers organised relay hunger strikes and demonstration from 7th to 9th December, under the leadership of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA). Rail drivers, shunters and assistant drivers working on different lobbies of different divisions across the country participated in the demonstrations. They organized demonstrations on platforms and lobbies at many places, in which women railway drivers also participated in large numbers.

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Loco drivers protesting outside the Crew Lobby in Muzaffarpur

The railway drivers had organized this strike and demonstration is support of their 14 point demands. During the demonstration, the railway drivers pointed out that instead of filling the vacant posts of drivers and guards in the railways, the existing employees are being made to work for more than the prescribed time limit. Rail drivers and other running staff are forced to work for several hours without taking rest, posing a risk of accidents. They demanded that the rule of eight-hour duty should be implemented as per the recommendation of the High Power Committee. Vacant posts in railways should be filled immediately. They pointed out that every work in Railways is being given on contract. Even rail drivers and guards are being deployed on contract. In the name of monetization, operation of passenger trains, goods trains and stations are also being given on contract. In this way, property worth crores of railways is being privatized. For the greed for profit, trains are being operated without guards. This indicates a potential danger.

It should be noted that railway drivers have been continuously fighting against privatization, to provide basic facilities for women drivers and to improve their working conditions.

This struggle of railway drivers against privatization has been going on for many years. The plan of monetization announced by the finance minister in 2021 is being strongly opposed by the railway drivers. They have organized many demonstrations against the corporatization of railways. They raised the demand that the new labour laws (four labour codes) should be withdrawn, the old pension scheme should be implemented by abolishing the new pension scheme. Basic facilities should be developed for women running staff.

The three-day event ended with the resolve to continue the struggle with the slogan ‘Save Rail, Save the country!.

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