The 22nd Bi-annual Convention of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) was held on 24th-25th September 2018 in Jodhpur. At the commencement of the convention, AILRSA President L Moni hoisted the red flag, which was accompanied by revolutionary slogans from the participating delegates. Over 2000 loco pilots including women loco pilots from all the railway zones across the country participated in the convention along with their family members.
The venue of the convention was decorated with red buntings with AILRSA inscribed on it. The loco pilots had displayed the banners of their respective zones all around the venue. The presidium of the included President L Moni, Comrade N B Dutta, Com. T Hanumaiyaa, Com K A S Mani, Vice President M P Dev, and Com. R R Bhagat. General Secretary of CITU Com. Tapan Sen inaugurated the convention. He acknowledged that the Loco pilots are not only fighting for their own demands but for the rights of the entire working class.
In the first session of the convention Com Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, All India, Railway Mens Federation, Com M Raghavaiyya, General Secretary, National Federation of Indian Railway Men, Com Giriraj Singh, President, National Federation of Postal Employees, Com. Meghraj Meena, General Secretary DLCEU, Com. Sarfaraz Hussain, National Movement for Old Pension Scheme, Com. AK Srivastav, Former General Secretary, All India Guards Council, Com. BR Singh, President, All India Guards Council, Com. DS Chandratreya, General Secretary, All India Station Master Association, Com. Abdul Hakim, Lawyers Union and Com. Anima Dhar addressed the convention.
General Secretary Com. MN Prasad presented his report. Describing the struggle of the loco pilots he said that we have waged many agitations in support of our demands. This included numerous demonstrations and hunger strikes. We also wrote to the railway minister and the railway authorities and sent delegations to meet them. But despite all this the loco pilots have not got justice either in the case of running allowance, not have the recommendation from various committees been implemented. He appealed to the loco pilots to participate actively in the all-India strike being planned for February 2019.
All the speakers addressing the convention highlighted the importance of the work being done by the loco pilots for the Indian Railways. They condemned the government for attempting to break up the Indian Railway into multiple entities, and selling them off to private players. In this context they said that instead of filling the vacant post with new recruits the authorities are re-employing retired staff to run the Indian Railway. This can pose a big danger to the security. Increasing number of positions are being filled on contract basis, and even the tasks which are required to be performed round the year are being outsourced. The government has now allowed 100 percent FDI in railways. Rail track, engine, coach, railway training school, residential colonies, hospitals, railway station and its land, railway factory, etc, everything is being handed over to private players. In other words this colossal national public transport resource is being handed over to the capitalists for them to extract huge profits. This has huge negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the railway workers and this is massive attack on their rights. All the speakers said that now the time has come for us to unite, organise and intensify our struggle.
Representatives from AILRSA reiterated their long pending demands which they have been consistently raising with the government which include – increase in the running allowance along with increase in basic income and travel allowance, regular payment of pension to all those who retired before 2016, scrapping of the new pension scheme (NPS), implement the recommendation of the high power committee regarding working and rest hours, etc. They also firmly opposed privatization of railway and outsourcing of various tasks being performed by railways.
In the delegation sessions loco pilot representatives from 16 zones along with the delegate from Kolkata Metro participated actively. They critically reviewed their own work since last convention. It was reported that in the past two years they have added 10000 new members to the already existing 40000 members.
In the course of the convention new office bearers of AILRSA were elected. The convention also adopted many resolutions, some of the important ones being – preparing a leaflet on the demands of loco pilots by 25 October; writing letters to the Prime Minister, Railway Minister, railway authorities, and all the parliamentarians; organising conventions at zonal levels to mobilise all the workers during November and December for the general strike; take concrete steps to mobilise other trade unions and mass organisations to support the demands of loco pilots, sending a delegation to the railway authorities to discuss the issue of parity on running allowance and pension. The next meeting of the CWC will be held in February 2019 to decide the date for strike, after which a central rally will be organised.
At the end of the day on 24th September, a huge rally was organised in which the loco pilots and their family member participated with great enthusiasm. The entire Jodhpur city reverberated with the sound from the rally. This was followed by a cultural programme.