Thousands of Railway workers protest in Mumbai
Thousands of railway workers demonstrated at 5 p.m on 5th February in front of the Railways office. Many women workers participated in this demonstration organized by the National Railway Mazdoor Union. Several new trains are introduced each year, but appointments of the requisite number of workers to manage the increasing responsibilities are never made. There are many vacancies amongst the loco drivers, linesmen, guards, signalmen, maintenance and repair workers, c&w, etc. since some time and no permanent workers have been appointed to fill these. The railway administration is only interested in retiring workers. Therefore, there is increasing burden of work on the employees, which leads to stress and consequent risk to the safety of the passengers. The main demand of the workers is to fill these vacancies immediately; besides this, they are also opposing the government’s policy on FDI in Railways.
A New Pension Scheme was implemented on 1st January 2004 for the railway workers. According to the Scheme, 10% is to be deducted from the employee’s wage which will be matched by a 10% contribution from the Railway administration. However, the families of the workers who have expired have received nothing from the scheme. When the workers sought clarification from the “Permanent Negotiating Machinery (a committee set up by the government), the administration responded that it knew nothing about where the pension amounts may be lying. The other major demand of the workers is that such an anti-worker and fraudulent pension scheme be withdrawn and the earlier pension scheme be reinstated for all workers.
There is a consistent dearth of hospitals and doctors for railway workers and medicines and other facilities are also mostly not available. This results in poor health care services for the railway workers. Their demand is that this issue should be addressed seriously. Militant slogans were raised against the policies of the central government and in rousing support of the unity of the workers. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar extends its hearty support to the railway workers.