Taking one more step towards the privatization of railways, operation of first Tejas by a private company has begun. Against this step of the government, the pilots and guards of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) held protest demonstrations and observed Black Day at railway crew lobby, pilot rest rooms, stations, training centers, etc. all across the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The employees wore black ribbon bands as a sign of protest.
At Ghaziabad railway station, the railways employees held back the “Tejas” for 5 minutes expressing their anger against this step by the government. After a struggle between the police and the employees, the employees were forcibly removed from the railway track.
At various location AILRSA leaders addressed protest demonstrations. R.S.Handa at the Varanasi station in Uttar Pradesh, Zonal President N.B. Singh at Maduadih, Zonal Secretary Padam Singh at Ghaziabad station, and other leaders at various locations addressed the protesting employees.
Regional General Secretary Vinay Sharma, Zonal Vice-President and Divisional President Bharat Kumar, Branch Secretary Shiv Pujan Verma, Krishna Kumar, Satya Narayan Gupta, Jai Prakash and others were present at the demonstration held at the Gorakhpur station.
In West Bengal, AILRSA organised protest demonstrations at all railway lobbies including Andal. Working President of AILRSA Ram Raj Bhagat addressed the protesting workers at Andal Station.
National Vice-President of AILRSA termed this step as privatization of the very existence of the Indian Railway. Explaining the reasons for their opposition to the operation of private trains, he said that this step by the government is to ensure profits for the private companies. For example the government will get only the hauling charges from these operations. Thus it will lead to loss of revenue for the railways.
Addressing the protesting railway employees speakers at various location explained that the railway will have to continue to pay for the 47 percent subsidy on the passenger tickets. These trains will not offer concessions to students, senior citizens, sick patients, sportsperson, etc. Railway employees will not be granted free travel on these private trains.
During the festive seasons and other occasions when there is heavy passenger load, the cost of tickets will rise. To ensure maximum profits to the private operators, safety and security will be ignored leading to increase in accidents. Passenger safety will also be ignored.
They also explained that regular employees like loco pilot, guard, TTI will now hired on contract. They will be forced to work at less pay for longer hours. This will also adversely impact passenger safety.
Strongly condemning this step taken by the government, the leaders said that the government is going ahead with the corporatization, privatization, and contratualisation in railways, setting aside the national interest. In a dictatorial manner the government is eliminating all posts. We the workers have built this Indian Railways through our blood and sweat. We will not allow this to happen.
Militantly raising the slogan “Save Railways, Save Country, Save Jobs, Save Families!” the protesting employees resolved to intensify the struggle against privatization of railways.
Communist Gadar Party of India fully supports and appreciates these protest actions. This struggle is an important step in the struggle being waged by workers of different sectors across the country against the privatization programme being implemented by the government in the interest of the monopoly capitalists houses.