“These people are paid two-and-a-half-months’ salary as bonus, but have been doing a shabby job,” said an irate man standing in queue to buy a ticket at the City Railway Station here. His anger was directed towards the ticket issuing staff for “slow work.”

A retired railway employee, who was standing nearby, was deeply pained at this statement. “Politicians play around by announcing 75-days’ salary as bonus, but in reality, what employees get is not even 15-days’ salary,” he said. And such political statements make the general public believe that railway employees are paid huge sums for doing nothing, he added.

When Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that employees of the Indian Railways would be paid 75 days’ salary as bonus for 2008-09, everyone must have felt jealous. However, for the year 2007-08, the employees (Class III and Class IV) were paid a maximum of Rs. 10,000 although the Railway Minister had announced 73-days’ salary as bonus, said G. Kumar, secretary of the Indian Railways Ticket Checking Staff Organisation.

“If the bonus is paid as promised, an employee with a basic salary of Rs. 22,500 a month should get Rs. 56,250 as bonus; one with Rs. 18,640 basic should get Rs. 46,500; those with a basic pay of Rs. 9,000 should get Rs. 22,500 and those with a basic of Rs. 4,500 should receive Rs. 11,250 as bonus,” he said in an interview with The Hindu. The ceiling of Rs. 10,000 amounted to 14 days’ salary for those with Rs. 22,500 basic pay, 17 days’ salary for those with a basic of Rs. 18,640; 34 days for those with Rs. 9,000 basic and 67 days for those getting Rs. 4,500 basic, he added.

Instead of declaring “eyebrow-raising” bonuses, the Railway Ministry should declare a fixed sum irrespective of employee-class, say, Rs. 20,000, Mr. Kumar suggested. The Railways had been earning handsome profits and by getting an attractive bonus, employees would be encouraged to work harder, he added.

Echoing the same view, C. Sunish, Secretary of the All-India Loco Running Staff Association, South Western Railway, said the “colourful announcement” and the ceiling on payment of bonus was nothing but “cheating of employees.” He said although Ms. Banerjee had announced 75-days’ salary as bonus for 2008-09, the ceiling, according to information he had received, was fixed at Rs. 8,630. He too urged the Railways to desist from making empty promises and announce a fixed sum as bonus.

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