Sivankutty writes to Railway Minister over loco pilot strike

Seeks immediate steps to resolve the issue by granting legally mandated rest to loco pilots in the interests of safety

Published - June 15, 2024 06:42 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Minister for Labour V. Sivankutty has written to Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw seeking a solution to the issues raised by the protesting loco pilots under Southern Railway.

The loco pilots have been striking since June 1 in protest against the railway authorities’ refusal to grant them statutory rest despite rulings by the Central Administrative Tribunal and the Karnataka High Court that denying rest as per the Railway Act and Rules was illegal.

The authorities remained adamant, leading to punishment and suspension of employees though there was no disruption of train operations. Such actions were a deliberate attempt to justify the denial of rest, resulting in denial of justice and anti-people actions, the Minister’s letter said.

The current steps by railway officials not only disregarded legal mandates but also compromised the safety and well-being of employees and passengers. “It is imperative that immediate steps be taken to resolve this issue by granting the legally mandated rest to loco-running employees and to withdraw the retaliatory actions imposed on them,” Mr. Sivankutty wrote.

Ensuring the safety and efficiency of the railway system should be top priority, the Minister said in the letter, urging Mr. Vaishnaw to address the issue and restore normalcy by upholding the legal rights of the loco-running employees.

Loco pilots’ demands

Among the demands of the loco pilots striking under the banner of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) is 30 hours of periodic weekly rest after the daily travel rest of 16 hours. At present, they have to report for duty 30 hours after the end of their weekly work.

The Palakkad division of Southern Railway recently accused a few retired loco pilots of instigating a section of loco-running employees to go on strike and warned them of stern action.

Railways also claimed that loco pilots in Palakkad division clocked only 80% of the stipulated working hours compared to those in various depots in adjacent South Western and South Central railways or Chennai division of Southern Railway.

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