At the call of the All India Guards’ Council (AIGC), Guards of the Indian Railways wore black badges while performing their duty, on 18th, 19th and 20th of January 2018, all across India. After this on 20th of February 2018, guards from all over India will demonstrate in front of their respective Divisional Railway Manager’s (DRM’s) offices and present a memorandum of their demands.
The main demands they presented to the railway authorities are
- Upgradation of grade pay of Guards from Rs. 2800 to Rs. 4200. The Guards have been agitating for this for a long time. It is to be noted that the same was done in the case of Assistant Station Masters (ASM) in the 7th Pay Commission, but it was denied to the Guards.
- Special Running Allowance / Risk Allowance to Goods Guards. All categories of Guards except Good Guards and all categories of Engine Drivers / Loco Pilots (including Goods Drivers) are getting this additional risk allowance. Since the duty of the Goods Guard is one of the most strenuous and he is all alone in his cabin, the omission of the Goods Guards from this allowance is most deplorable.
- Uniform Washing Allowance: The Guards have been sanctioned Rs. 5,000 per annum as washing allowance though they are supposed to wear white shirt and trousers and are responsible for public interface. They have been demanding Rs.10,000 per annum as washing allowance which was again sanctioned for some sections of the railway staff but denied to Guards.
- Abandonment of E.O.T.T. (End of Train Territory) machines being planned to be introduced into Goods trains with the aim of removing the Goods Guards altogether. The AIGC in its memorandum points out that this will increase the risk of running a train because a machine will not be able to perform all the duties which a human being is capable of and in case of unforeseen circumstance or in case of accidents, the Guards’ presence and direction of action is most essential for the smooth operation of the Goods Trains. The E.O.T.T. machines will only be able to indicate whether all the wagons are connected to the engine and there is no dislocation. It cannot substitute a Guard’s function in the event of an accidents such as derailment, etc.
- Goods Trains should not be run without Guards. Already in some divisions the authorities have started to run Goods Trains without Guards. The efficiency of Controlling Officers is also being judged by the number of Goods Trains they are able to run without guards and there is an atmosphere of overzealous competition among officers in establishing new records. The AIGC points out in its memorandum that such actions are unsafe and risk damage to life and property and demands that it should be immediately prohibited.
The above demands of the All India Guards’ Council are entirely justified and need the support of all sections of the Railway Employees as well as all sections of the working class of India.
MEL demands of the Railway authorities to immediately concede these just demands. Instead of reducing the number of Guards, the authorities should immediately fill up the large number of vacancies that exist among Guards. Their demand relating to increase in Grade Pay, kilometre allowance, risk allowance for Goods Guards, washing allowance, etc. are entirely justified and MEL demands of the railway authorities their immediate fulfilment.