The secret ballot seeking a referendum for going for a nation-wide indefinite strike by railway associations began here on Friday morning.

Over 5,000 of the total 7,775 railway employees in the Madurai railway division exercised their franchise, said Southern Railway Mazdoor Union divisional secretary and election officer J.M. Rafi. If the majority voters favoured a strike, the All India Railwaymen Federation will decide on the date, he added.

Railway employees have been pressing for a charter of demands, including merger of dearness allowance with basic pay and reservation in jobs in the railways for their wards.

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