All India unions may take final call after March depending on Ministry’s response

After the proposed indefinite strike in Indian Railways received a clear mandate from nearly 25,000 employees affiliated to South Central Railway Mazdoor Union (SCRMU) and SCR Employees’ Sangh (SCRES) in Vijayawada Division, it is time to wait for the Railway Ministry’s reaction to their demands and then take the plunge after March.

Through separate strike ballots, a vast majority of the two largest railway employees’ unions have voted in favour of strike and are keeping their fingers crossed as to what happens to their charter of demands comprising 36 and 65 items respectively mainly pertaining to the new pension scheme which they wanted to be scrapped, filling of vacant posts, creating posts commensurate with the work load, setting up of 7th Pay Commission and better working conditions for train running staff.

It may be noted that more than 98 per cent of the voters (in Vijayawada division) favoured the strike and if their parent unions All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NIFR) give the final nod for strike for which the line has been formally cleared by the strike ballots, it will cripple Railway network across the country though the agitated employees have many times in the past stopped short of resorting to the extreme action of indefinite strike due to fulfilling of some of the promises made to them and assurances given by successive governments.

Leaders of SCRMU and SCRES told The Hindu that the D.P. Tripathi Committee report on duty hours of running and other safety related categories of staff which was submitted in August 2013 contained nearly 90 recommendations and the employees looked forward to their implementation.

The Hours of Employment and Rest (HOER) Rules have to be strictly followed if the employees were to discharge their duties well under tough conditions.

A proper ‘job analysis’ has to be done and suitable action taken for relieving employees of increasing work burden and if Ministry of Railways does not concede their genuine demands which include many other urgent issues, strike might become inevitable, the union leaders warned.

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