The All India Loco Running Staff Association has flayed the lackadaisical attitude of the Railway Board in implementing the six-hour duty for loco pilots and assistant loco pilots, claiming that it is taking a toll on the health of the staff and it also compromised the safety of the passengers.
The association blamed the railway administration for not implementing the order of the Regional Labour Commissioner, Chennai, that reclassified the category of nature of job of loco men from ‘continuous’ to ‘intensive’ that warranted restricting their shift to six hours.
The order, which was issued on December 11, 2009, after a job analysis, was upheld by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, on February 18, 2013.
“Four months have passed since the appeal of the Southern Railway General Manager on the issue was dismissed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, but the railway administration has shown no regard to the order,” R.Soundarapandian, a retired loco pilot and veteran railway trade union leader, said.
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a seminar on “Accident-free train service” here on Sunday, he traced the changes in the nature of the job of loco men from the days when their shifts ran to unlimited time to the present 12 to 13 hours.
“The administration, which is introducing new trains every year, is not applying the same intelligence in recruiting more loco men,” he lamented.
The association’s Chennai divisional secretary, V.Balachandran, said the railway, over a period, had reclassified as “intensive” the job nature of railway traffic controllers and station masters in higher traffic railway sections in Chennai division. “Their working time has been restricted to six hours considering the stress involved in managing the running of trains.
The same yardstick should be applied to loco pilots too,” he said.
Two main factors that were considered for the reclassification of the nature of job of loco men to “intensive” are the strenuous nature of the work tending to cause mental or physical strain and the continuous application to such work with little or no periods of relaxation.
Mr. Soundarapandian pointed out that the Railway Board, in a circular dated June 12, 2012, had recommended reducing maximum duty hours of mail and express drivers to six hours.
“If the administration is focusing so much on safety, it should implement its own recommendations,” he said.