On 18th October 2019, hundreds of rail workers in Mumbai protested against the privatisation moves of the Railway Ministry as well as against the anti-worker New Pension Scheme (NPS).
The protest was organised by All India Rail Track Maintainers Union (AIRTU), Indian Railway Signal and Telecom Maintainers Union (IRSTMU), Western Railway Employees Movement for Old Pension Scheme (WREMOPS) and Rail Mazdoor Union (RMU).
The protest program started with a public meeting of the rail workers at Lower Parel Railway Institute from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The meeting was addressed by Com Avneesh Kumar (National Spokesperson of AIRTU), Com Sushant Panda (Secretary of WREMOPS) and Com Alok Prakash (Secretary of IRSTMU). They declared that the railway workers will neither accept privatisation nor the NPS. They pointed out that the NPS came in force for those workers who joined after 2004, i.e. about 40% of the workers today, and that it is necessary to step up the movement against it.
Com Mathew, Secretary of Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC), said that the Government is going ahead with privatisation of not just Railways, but Air India, BSNL, BPCL, etc. They are fully implementing polices that are in favour of 150 big monopoly corporate houses. To oppose them we need to build our unity of all workers as well as go among the rail passengers to explain to them that privatisation of railways is not in their interests. He called on the protesting unions to join the campaign launched by KEC to do propaganda among the travelling public. This was greeted enthusiastically by all those present.
After the public meeting the assembled workers marched to the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s office at Lower Parel Workshop to present their demands. From the Lower Parel workshop the agitating workers then marched to the Division Railway Manager office at Mumbai Central where they continued their protested from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
MEL supports the just demands of the protesting workers of Indian Railways.