In our country, working people are supposed to slog no matter what & it is their “Essential duty” which Government is bound to ensure. While at the same time big capitalist companies and corporations & big shot officials and Netas are supposed to mint money & it is their “essential right” which Government is bound to ensure.
From the early hours of the morning of May 3rd 2010, nearly a thousand motormen running the local trains of Mumbai went to work without food or water. By late evening, under exhaustion, these motormen started collapsing while doing their strenuous duty and had to be taken to hospitals. As we all know trains came to a stand still from Monday evening till Tuesday, 4th May evening.
In January 2010, the motormen wanted to go on Mass casual leave on 26th January, a National holiday, but desisted when Railway authorities promised to look into their grievances urgently. As usual these were just promises and nothing moved. Thus the motormen were forced to take to agitation and they decided to protest by going to work without food or water. Though most of us working people had to undergo hardship, we working people in our hearts supported these motormen because we know that strike is the last resort for all of us, when the authorities refuse to listen to our grievances. And here were these small number of brave men who dared to challenge the mighty railway administration fully backed by the Central and State Govts.
Why are the Motormen Agitating?
Motormen, with a serious concern about safety of more than 40 lac daily commuters, are demanding that they should be provided with an Assistant Motorman. According to Indian railways own rules, passenger and express mail trains which carry up to 1400 people must be provided with an Assistant loco pilot. However Mumbai locals carry anywhere between 5000 to 6000 passengers nowadays in 12 coach trains whereas when the local train services were started there were only 3 coaches and carried less than 300 passengers! The Railway authorities have refused to recognize the changed circumstances. In addition, Motormen have to work all seven days a week without a weekly day off and they do not have regular shift timings. They do not get leave even on National holidays, and many times due to shortage of manpower they have to work extra time, putting more strain on them which makes it really unsafe for passengers. They are paid less than a quarter day’s pay as a compensation for working on National holidays and have offered to return back this measly compensation to the railways & instead are asking for rest on National holidays.
Motormen are demanding payment of arrears since Jan 2006 onwards as per government’s own 6th Pay Commission recommendations given in Sept’08. Besides these demands Motormen are asking for increase in allowances & proper scale for new recruits as per Government’s own 6th Pay commission recommendations.
Brothers & sisters,
Instead of accepting all these just demands and discussing how to resolve them with the motormen, the railway authorities have consistently refused to negotiate with them forcing them to resort to agitation. The railway authorities with the full backing of the Central and State Government started attacking the Motormen. The railway authorities suspended the leaders and the Central Govt threatened to impose ESMA. The Railway authorities went to court and asked the court to order that the loss due to the railways from the strike be recovered from the agitating motormen! All of us, the signatories to this leaflet, denounce Government and the railway authorities for these thoroughly anti worker actions. We are sure that all the working people will also denounce them for this. If at all anybody should be penalized for the suffering of Motormen and the public at large, it is the concerned government officials and responsible Ministers and Railway Authorities who should be made to pay. It is they who have delayed acceding to the just demands of Motormen.
Brothers & sisters,
Government is repeatedly using ESMA against all fighting working people. If Government also agrees that Railways is an essential service, then what the government has done to reduce the plight of more than 40 lac commuters who use local trains everyday. Aren’t we all treated like animals! Even if you want to transport cattle in a railway break-van there is an upper limit on how many can be loaded in one break-van. But for we human beings there is no limit!
Whenever teachers want to agitate, government suddenly remembers plight of students and declares teaching an essential service. But the same government does not hesitate to allow enormous increase in fees so that Private educational institutions can mint money thus depriving millions of needy students from education!
Whenever Doctors, nurses or other health sector employees want to agitate, Government declares it’s ‘love & concern’ for patients by declaring health services as essential. But the same government allows massive profit margins to Pharmaceutical companies & systematically close down or throttle functioning of Government hospitals by not giving them fund so that Private hospitals can mint money!
Whenever BEST workers want to agitate, the Govt accuses them of “holding the public to ransom”! But very few of us know that the BEST management actually have reduced the salaries of these hard working drivers and conductors and that is the reason for the discontent among them.
When recently the Airline Employees of Air India went on strike the Management had terminated the services of 15 union leaders holding them accountable. But what about the accountability of the management which stubbornly refuses to listen to the workers grievances?
What about the accountability of the State and Central Govts which even after 60 years of Independence have created a situation where 40% of the population is living in semi starvation conditions, 50% are illiterate and vast majority do not have access to health facilities?
The list is endless. In our country, working people are supposed to slog no matter what & it is their “Essential duty” which Government is bound to ensure. While at the same time big capitalist companies and corporations & big shot officials and Netas are supposed to mint money & it is their “essential right” which Government is bound to ensure.
Brothers & sisters,
We must denounce such attacks on working people’s struggle unequivocally.
We must all support the Motormen’s just struggle.
We must not allow Courts to penalize struggling working people.
Lok Raj Sangathan ,Kamgar Ekta Chalwal, Air Corporation Employees Union(ACEU), Airport Authority of India Employees Union(AAEU), All India United Trade Union Congress(AIUTUC), BSNL Employees Union(BSNLEU), BSNL Labour Contract and Contract Employees Union, Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat(HMKP), Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Jagrut Ghar Kamgar Sangathan, Joint Action Forum of Central Railway and Western Railway Motormen & Loco Running Staff, Ladaku Garment Kamgar Sangathan, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors(MARD),Trade Union Solidarity Committee(TUSC), Voltas Employees Union
Published by Lok Raj Sangathan
May 27th 2010