Udupi, Dec 21, 2015: All India Railways Federation General Secretary Shivagopal Mishra said privatisation initiatives have been started in the Indian Railways and they would prove detrimental to the Indian Railways.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of a special general council meeting organised by National Railway Mazdoor Union here recently, he said the Railways has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the two multinational locomotives manufacturing companies in Elsassischen Maschinenbau in Germany and GE in US.
They are also delegated with the responsibility of maintenance for 16 years. The Mazdoor Union strongly opposes the initiative as direct privatisation would massively affect the Railways, he stated.
Questioning the need for the emergence of privatisation process, Mishra said Indian companies which are into locomotives manufacturing are excellent and offer quality service. They manufacture high quality materials. For instance, the locomotives manufactured in ABB, the leading power and automation technology group from Switzerland, costs Rs 26 crore while the same engine manufactured at Chittaranjan Locomotive works in Kolkatta with similar quality costs Rs 8.9 crore, he said.
Asserting that the present scenario in the Railways calls for several challenges confronted by the Mazdoor Union, Mishra said the protest against the government is the Mazdoor Union initiative towards "make in India".
Another major issue confronting the Indian Railways employees is the enforcement of the provision of the new pension order. He demanded that the old pension order should be reconsidered and should be extended to the employees who have joined the workforce in Indian Railways from January 1, 2004.
A memorandum has been submitted to the Union Cabinet in this regard and the government has failed to negotiate (with the union), he alleged.
Mishra added that the recommendations made by the Bibek Debroy Committee on the proposed restructuring of the Railways supported private sector participation in projects and setting up an independent regulator to promote competition in the segment. "We will not tolerate and we will not allow privatisation", he said.
He said the huge number of vacancies in the Railways, are more than 2.5 lakh jobs. In this, 80 per cent and above, especially in the Safety Department, should be filled immediately. This has resulted in massive stress on the workers, he said.
He added that the 7th Pay Commission recommendations are totally unscientific. Instead, the recommendations adopted on minimum wages formula in the 15th Indian Labor Congress should be considered. The minimum wage, when scientifically estimated, are around Rs 26,000. However, the 7th Pay Commission ignores the demand. The minimum wage should be decided on the price of essential commodities used by the employees.
The Supreme Court has also upheld this fact. The house rent allowance is just 3 per cent as against the demand for 7.5 per cent, he claimed.
Mishra said 36 lakh Central government employees, including Postal Department and Defence Civilian Department staffers, would join the protest proposed by the Indian Railways employees. The government would be given time till February 15, 2016 to set up the appropriate authority for negotiation.
Intense agitation would be taken up in the first week of March, which would be the largest since 1974. The union has 1.26 million members, he added.