On January 12th 2012, the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), called for a joint consultative meeting of all associations representing the Rail Engine Drivers, in Mumbai. The hall was packed with militant engine drivers who had come from the different associations representing them.
Comrade RP Singh, Working President, AILRSA, Mumbai Division, invited the leaders of the Western Railway Motormen’s Association (WRMA), Central Railway Motormen’s Association (CRMA), Joint Action Committee of Western and Central Railway Motormen (JACWCRM) and All India Railway Employees Confederation (AIREC) to the dais. Welcoming the leader of the Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS), he said that this organisation as well as Mazdoor Ekta Lehar (MEL) had always supported the struggles of the Engine Drivers as well as all sections of the working people.
Com Appadurai (retired) assured the gathering that he would support them to the end. Comrade N.Talekar, General Secretary, CRMA reminded the listeners that the strength of the motormen lay in their unity. When the AILRSA issues a call for morcha, dharna or strike in the coming days, his association would be the first to join!
Comrade P.N. Gupta, General Secretary, WRMA assured the people that his association would be the first to respond to the strike call. He opined that the government would not bow down unless some such action was taken.
Comrade Deven Yadav, Chairman, JACWCRM said that the struggle would have to be intensified, and the AILRSA strengthened. There was no need to run behind Unions that were not true to their cause. He pointed out that the administration splits their unity by promoting overtime work and urged everyone not to fall for this temptation. It is not possible to fight if we work for 16 hours a day. He quoted Tipu Sultan who had said, “One breath of freedom is worth more than living for a hundred years in bondage.” He admonished his comrades not to be frightened into working for 16 hours. “That way we will neither read history, nor create it!”
Comrade D.S. Khopakar, Zonal Secretary, AILRSA agreed with the earlier speaker and said that succumbing to the pressure of overtime was proving to be a big weakness. Stopping overtime would mean stopping 40% of the trains.
Comrade M.N.Prasad, All India General Secretary, AILRSA pointed out that it was not a one-day fight. AILRSA would declare strike at the appropriate time. Workers go on strike legally, but the government obeys no laws. Only struggle takes us forward! Without struggle we will lose what we have today as well.
Many more speakers came forward and expressed their anger at the callous attitude of the railway authorities towards the demands of the engine drivers.