Our MEL reporter was witness to a first of it’s kind meeting of Motormen associations and Passenger associations held in Mumbai. This meeting was held on 28th July and lasted for almost 5 hours ! Our correspondent reports:
Whenever working people from any sectors like Railways, Road Transport, Air lines, Municipalty, Health services, Education services, Electricity etc. go on a strike struggle government machinery swings in action and maligns these working people. Main stream News media, which rarely bothers about everyday plight of common people in Hospitals, Railway stations, Schools, etc. suddenly swings in action and makes a barrage of misleading propaganda that it is due to the strike struggles of working people the common man suffers. Every attempt is made to incite the users of these services against working people who are responsible for maintaining these services. The transport sector workers are often declared ‘responsible’ for any mishaps almost immediately after any mishap happens. Hence an open exchange of views between users of services & working people responsible for delivering those services will not only defeat the government purpose of pitting them against each other but can also ensure that interests of both are protected. From this perspective the bold initiative taken by Motormen’s associations to hold an open discussion with various passenger associations is indeed a very positive step.
Representatives of Western Railway Motormen’s Association & Central Railway Motormen’s Associations, Shri. P. Gupta, Shri.Devendra Yadav, Shri. Talekar, Shri. Amit Shahu, Shri. Shailesh Mhatre, Shri. Nimsulkar and Com. Rath attended the meeting. Shri Manohar Shelar, Shri. D.C.Godbole, Shri.Madhu Kotiyan, Shri.Kailas Varma, Shri Shailendra Kamble and Shri Nadkumar Deshmukh represented various passenger associations. Many other concerned citizens also attended the meeting.
Various representatives of Motormen expressed that passengers are their customers and they want to serve passengers well but they are prevented to give their best due to their appalling working conditions. They explained how motormen do not get weekly off, do not get proper rest; they are forced to work extra time since government does not fill up vacant posts. They explained as to how government keeps on stone walling any discussion on the just demands of motormen and thus force the motormen to take extreme step of striking work. They also explained that by compromising on maintenance of railways, signaling system, tracks etc. and by forcing the tired motormen to carry on their stress full duty the government is actually putting the safety of passengers in danger. Comrade Rath clarified that the propaganda by government that motormen get more than 1.25 lac rupees salary per month is blatantly false and the reality is that most of them hardly get about 30 thousand rupees in hand after putting in more than 15 years service. Shri. Deven Yadav , Chairman Joint Action Forum Western & Central Railway Motormen’s Associations explained the importance of demand of one Assistant motorman stating that this will go a long way in ensuring passenger safety.
Almost all the representatives of passenger associations mentioned that their eyes have opened up to reality and that they would actively support the motormen’s demands in future. Shri. Madhu Kotian President Confederation of Rail Passengers Association said that passengers & motormen should work in co-ordination, should give ultimatum of one month to government to solve all the problems faced by motormen or else passengers also should take to streets in support of motormen.
It was decided that in future both the motormen & passengers associations should co-ordinate their actions.