KARNATAKA

Services of re-engaged railway staff terminated

COVID-19 has impacted the fortunes of the Railways, making it resort to austerity measures to reduce expenditure.M.A. SRIRAM

COVID-19 has impacted the fortunes of the Railways, making it resort to austerity measures to reduce expenditure.M.A. SRIRAM  

The services of scores of retired but re-engaged employees in the South Western Railways have been terminated as austerity or as a cost-cutting measure arising out of the COVID-19 situation. This follows a review of the Railways’ policy on re-engagement of retired personnel till new recruits are trained and deployed.

But with COVID-19 leading to suspension of regular passenger services and volume of freight transportation being low, the Indian Railways is riding into a financial crisis. Hence, it has been decided to prune staff strength.

Sources in the South Western Railways told The Hindu that a majority of the staff re-engaged were in the Group C category across different departments. As many as 428 retired railway employees were re-engaged across South Western Railway including 89 in the Mysuru Railway division. “Only the medical and para-medical staff engaged in COVID-19 duty and those deployed in critical areas have been spared,” sources added.

When contacted, E. Vijaya, Chief PRO, SWR, said the services of the re-engaged staff will be continued or retained on a need basis as an austerity measure.

‘Inevitable move’

Other officials stated that the move was inevitable, given rising expenditure amidst declining revenue. For instance, there were nearly 30 staff for issuing passenger tickets in the Mysuru railway station alone and they used to work in three shifts in pre-COVID-19 times. This was justified when the outbound passenger traffic used to hover around 30,000 per day.

With suspension of passenger services there were no tickets to be issued, but the employees had to be paid. As part of the graded unlocking 1 passenger train operates between Mysuru and Bengaluru which is used at the most by about 150 passengers and hence the commercial staff on duty have little work. However, they cannot be terminated as they are regular employees and hence the axe has fallen on re-engaged employees, said the sources.

Originally, the re-engagement was to end on November 30, 2019, but it was extended by an year due to delay in filling up the vacancies.

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