The Southern Railway Mazdoor Union will join the nation-wide indefinite strike planned in June or July, to press for a charter of demands, including opposition to the move to privatise railway services, its general secretary N. Kannaiah said.

Talking to reporters in Madurai on Thursday, he said that a secret ballot among the railway employees would be conducted in May to decide on the strike call given by the All India Railwaymen’s Federation which has been pressing the Centre to remove the anomalies in the reports of the Sixth Pay Commission with reference to railway employees. “Despite having agreed to implement various measures on the issues agreed, the railway administration is yet to execute them,” he said. The federation demanded filling all the 3.5 lakh vacancies.

The union was opposed to the new pension scheme for employees who had joined the railways after 2004. “Since Indian Railways has a separate budget, it can do away with the new pension scheme,” he said.

Implementing the recommendations for cadre-restructuring in the railways, giving priority for the wards of railway employees in recruitment, extending the tuition fee allowance given to the wards studying in higher secondary classes to those pursuing higher education, and removal of ceiling on bonus were among the other demands. Welcoming the Centre’s decision on raising the rail fare, he justified it, saying it would help meet the increasing running cost. “If the passengers need better amenities and infrastructure, they have to accept this minimal increase,” he said.

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