Employees of Southern Railway have voted overwhelmingly in favour of an indefinite general strike, proposed by the All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), to press for various long-pending demands and for a negotiated settlement.

At the conclusion of counting of votes in the ‘strike ballot’ that was held at over 1,000 centres across various divisions on December 20 and 21, 86.8 per cent of an estimated 82,147 railwaymen in the zonal railways endorsed a general strike. The strike ballot led by the Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) saw 81,605 employees (91.6 per cent) cast their votes. The invalid votes totalled 542 (0.6 per cent).

N. Kanniah, SRMU general secretary, who along with C.A. Raja, AIRF working president, announced the outcome and said the results would be forwarded to the AIRF and a further course of action likely to be finalised at a meeting scheduled for January-February.

The crucial meet would decide whether an estimated 1.3 million railwaymen will launch an indefinite strike that could bring the nation to a standstill — the last time a general strike was launched in the Railways was in 1974.

The All India Loco Running Staff Association has also endorsed participation in the AIRF-led strike for implementing a charter of demands that include guaranteed pension scheme and quota for the wards of employees.

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