September 29, 2019

Railway Staff Chart Protest Plan to Resist Privatisation

THE All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) held a two-day central working committee meeting at Souharda, Bengaluru, on September 24. The meeting was attended by nearly 120 delegates from all the 17 Railway zones (almost all states) in Indian Railways.

The organisation represents the Assistant Loco Pilot, Shunting Loco Pilot, Loco Pilot Goods, Loco Pilot Passenger, and Loco Pilot Mail of Indian Railways. It discussed the problems faced by Loco Running Staff and the committee had passed resolutions with planned programmes of agitation to settle the issues. 

The Indian Railways remains the world’s largest railway system under a single management, the government of India. But the BJP-led government appears to be determined to change this. It has decided to dismantle and hand over this colossus establishment to private players, domestic and foreign and is going ahead in that direction, said the AILRSA, in a press release.

Despite its immense service to the common people, particularly the poor, successive governments have neglected to expand and upgrade the railway network to meet the increasing demands of the nation. With the advent of neoliberal policies in the country under the Congress led regime in 1991, Indian Railways too has become a target for privatisation, the association said.

AILRSA called upon the entire railwaymen and rail users to oppose the privatisation measures incorporated in the 100 days Action Plan proposed by the ministry of railways. The Railway Board’s letter dated June 18, 2019, has directed that immediate implementation of the Action Plan by August 31, 2019.

AILRSA strongly condemned the move to privatise and demanded to do away with the above proposal, and pledged that it is the duty of AILRSA to do whatever possible to stop the privatisation. “We also understand it is a task to be undertaken by the railway workers as a whole and plead all trade unions of railway men to unite and fight privatisation,” the association said.

The association has outlined its action plan to protest the government policy. On October 4, the members would be observing Black Day to protest the flagging off of Tejas owned by IRCTC which is the first private-owned train in the Indian Railways.

On November 28, 2019, they would observe Solidarity day to support the long march decided from Chittaranjan Locomotive Works to Howrah from November 28 to December 13. The South Eastern Railway and Eastern Railway is directed to arrange 25 delegates from AILRSA on shift for the entire walk, to give all possible support and propaganda for the march. Joint demonstrations would be organised along with sister trade unions of all main centres, the AILRSA declared.

This will be followed by  public meetings on the occasion of holding divisional conventions to protest privatisation and the protest programme will conclude with a national convention in New Delhi, with other sister trade unions and intellectuals to discuss the issue, said the association.