AILRSA submits the memorandum of demands to the Chairman/CEO Railway Board and seeks time for meeting

 

Letters by All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) enumerating their grievances and demands and seeking time for meeting

 

 

To,
The Chairman/CEO,
Railway Board,
Rail Bhavan, New Delhi.

Respected Madam,

Sub: Grievances of Loco Running Staff

This association wish to submit this representation before your good self in the hope that the grievances enumerated in this memorandum will be considered and resolved.

  1. Weekly/Periodical rest of Running Staff.

    All workers in the world, whether they are in private sector or in Government sector enjoys a day’s rest after six days work. Railway workers including the Officers attached to administrative and allied offices enjoy two days
    leisure on Saturday and Sunday every week which runs to 63 hours at a stretch. Even the field workers in Railway enjoy a weekly rest of 48 hours at the least. The application of standard roster invariably gives them 58/54 hours weekly rest. The Regional Labour Commissioner, Bengaluru examined the existing periodical rest rules and declared that the daily/trip rest and the weekly rest are separate connotations and shall not run concurrently. That decision was upheld by the Hon’ High Court of Karnataka. If the statutory requirement of 16 hours of rest after a spell of duty is also added to periodical rest of 30 hours, each Loco Pilot is legally entitled to avail a minimum of 46 hours weekly rest including the trip rest.

    The concept of periodical rest is to ensure that the staff is able to avail the required rest so as to protect their health and prevent any psychological imbalance. This principle is much more relevant in the case of loco running staff whose operational lapses are likely to end in a tragedy and play a vital role in safe train operations.

    So periodical rest of 30 hours may please be given in addition to 16 hours’ trip rest.

  2. Duty hours at a stretch of Running Staff of Freight trains.

    The Railway Labour Tribunal 1969 observed that:-
    “Fatigue is a salutary sensation provided one heeds to it and lies down and rests”. According to Health Encyclopaedia, page 524, “If one disregard these natures warning and forces oneself to continue working, feeling of fatigue increases until it become distressing and finally over whelming. At such a stage a worker is bound to be put in a hazardous condition because his efficiency is likely to suffer, and an accident can take place at the hands of such an employee”.

    In 1973 there was a nationwide strike by the Loco Running Staff under the banner of All India Loco Running Staff Association, demanding a limit to the duty at a stretch of running staff to 8 hours from signing ‘ON’ to ‘OFF’, irrespective of the duration of running duty involved. The strike was called off on an agreement signed by the then Labour Minister on behalf of the Government on 13/08/1973 by the then Railway Minister. Point no 8 in the agreement reads as follows:-

    “Members of the Loco Running staff will not be required to work for more than 10 hours at a stretch from signing ‘ON’ to signing ‘OFF’.

    In accordance with the agreement a committee was formed comprising the representative of Government and the AILRSA. After protracted discussions, study and test, the Railway administration finally issued the order E(LL)77/HER/29 dated 31/08/78 restricting the duty hours to 10 hours at a stretch from signing ‘ON’ to signing ‘OFF’ after along 5 years since signing the agreement on 13/08/1973.

    It is observed by the Central Administrative Tribunal Ernakulam in its judgement dated 10/01/1992 that “Going away from the 10 hours duty from signing ‘On’ to ‘OFF’ introduced on 31/08/1978 is unethical”. Its observations is “after having entered into an agreement with the action committee of the Loco Running Staff on 1973 and having given assurance to parliament that the members of the Loco Running Staff will not be required to work more than 10 hours at a stretch from signing ‘ON’ to signing ‘OFF’, it may appear to be unethical, against public interest and destructive of the creditability of the Government”.

    The standing committee on Railways of 14th Lok Sabha made its recommendations in the 5th report of Safety and Security of Railways dated 21/09/2004 that more than 8 hours duty at a stretch should not be extracted from the Loco Running Staff of the Indian Railways and the said report was placed before Parliament during 2004.

    A glance through the various labour regulations would show that the present instruction dated 28/11/2016, compelling the worker to attend duty continuously for 12 hours is a service condition which stands in isolation in the field of labour law and is inconsistent with the scheme of all those legislations. The working hours prescribed to running staff is definitely on the higher side.

    The High Power committee on HOER ( 2013) however further recommended that “the position be reviewed in 2020 when major line capacity works would have been completed and dedicated freight corridor system made operational. With the improved train ordering system also, it may be possible at that time to reduce the overall duty hours of Running Staff from Sign ‘ON’ to Sign ‘OFF’ to 10 hours.” This recommendation was accepted by Railway Board vide letter No. E(LL)/2015/HPC/2/t. MS dated 02/02/16.

    In spite of this recommendation, still the upper limit is prescribed stands at 12 hours from Sign ‘ON’ to ‘OFF’. But in practice freight crew are being forced to work beyond 12 hours and 30% of freight crew are working beyond 14 hours duty at a stretch.

    Therefore we request to reduce the duty at a stretch to 08 hours from Sign ‘ON’ to ‘OFF.’

  3. Continuous Night Duty.

    Continuous night duties are integral part of Railway job. Week long night duties are common among running staff with only one night rest in between. In Railways night duty consists any spell of duty from 22.00 hours to 06.00 hours and such night duties are to be performed to four consecutive nights.

    Psycho – Technology on Indian Railways – Research Design and Standard Organization, Ministry of Railways, Lucknow says as follows:-

    “The element of stress or fatigue caused to Mail/Express Loco Pilots due to high speed and hours of duty was investigated in an experimental study. The findings indicate that mid night – early morning time zone produces greatest stress on Loco Pilots as their mental alertness shown slackening during these hours. The working on the second consecutive night has been found to further dampen the mental alertness, making Loco Pilots vulnerable to operational lapses”

    After a detailed study of various research paper on this subject the HPC recommended as follows…

    The continuous/consecutive night duties which are six in the present practice should be brought down to two nights for the running staff after which they must be granted at least one full night in bed before being booked again, so as to recoup from the sleep dept. In case a third night working is inevitable at outstation on account of operational exigencies, it may be permitted only if the following conditions are met with.

    a) The staff is given at least 10 hours before signing ‘ON’ for duty.
    b) The duty to be performed by him involving third night working should be towards head quarters station.
    c) On completion of the above trip, he should be granted full head quarters rest including one full night in bed.

    Despite the detailed reasoning given by the HPC that continuous night duties at a stretch cannot exceed two consecutive nights for the running staff, no reason has been stated by the Railway Board as to why the continuous night duty could extend up to four nights. Considering the gravity of the situation the pressing need to limit the continuous stretch of night duties for two days is very much justified and there is absolutely no justification deviating from the said recommendations.

    We demand to restrict the consecutive night duties to two.

  4. Stay away from Home station.

    Longer absence from the family that too in frequent interval in a whole life span has serious repercussion on the physical and mental health of the staff. Thus pose much constraints and hardship to Running staff to look after their family. After a spell of 72 hours away from home, staff are given rest at headquarters for 16 hours and again they are detained for another spell of 72 hours away from the headquarters. Thus in a span of 7 days the running staffs are able to live with their family only for a period of 16 hours on the aggregate. This situation is for the entire service.

    Frequent train services as well as increased traffic, now enable the Railway to bring back the crew to their headquarters much earlier than before. Realising the position, the Railway Board pleased to issue letter no. E(LL) 2009/HER/i(RBE No. 37/2010) dt 26.02.2010, directing the Railway management to bring back Running Staff to head quarters within 36 hours wherever it is feasible, duly considering the repercussion on the health and the social obligations of the Running Staff.

    Further the HPC ( 2013) recommended as follows.

    “The present limit of 96 hours stay away from headquarters need to be brought down to a level of 72 hours. The committee, further, recommends that efforts should be made to bring down this limit further from 72 hours 48 hours concurrent with the completion of large scale line capacity works and operationalization of DFCCIL Project in tandem with completion of Vision 2020 of Indian Railways”.

    We demand to reduce the out station stay to 36 hours.

  5. Drastic Punishment imposed on Signal Passing at Danger(SPAD).

    SPAD(Signal Passing at Danger) is a world wide phenomenon and a lot of research is being down to control. But Indian Railways never ventured to address these problems scientifically. The disciplinary authorities impose removal from service, as a minimum punishment and that created fear ‘psychosis’ among loco running staff, which invariably leads to undesirable cautious and defensive attitude towards their work, which have serious repercussion in the punctual, safe and smooth running of trains.

    In many countries, taking drastic disciplinary actions is not considered as a solution for SPAD. In many advanced Railways, the Loco Pilots are given extra training, counselling etc for the first two incidents of SPAD, only on third SPAD they are being grounded.

    According to the norms of punishment in force at present vide circular dated 22.01.2018, the definite quantum of punishment is prescribed. But that was not been followed by many disciplinary and appellate authorities.

    In many Zonal Railways, punishments were awarded for SPAD cases in which the train stopped within signal overlap, block overlap in excess of the norms of punishment prescribed by the Railway Board.

    In many incidents of SPAD, especially in SER, SECR, ECR,& ER the train consists of BMBS wagons which are prone to erratic in brake application. The crew are being awarded with removal from service. Though these specific cases were represented to your good office, no action is being taken to reduce the punishment.

    In the case of collision of a goods train with stabled goods train in ODM station, South Eastern Railway on 25.06.2023, the LP and ALP have been dismissed from service invoking rule 14(ii) of Disciplinary and Appeal Rules 1968. A CLI, a Loco Pilot ( Goods) and a Loco Pilot ( shunting were also removed from service under the same rule in the same Railway for the alleged involvement in a roll down of a multiple unit.

    We demand that invoking 14/ii rule of DAR must be stopped and penalties hall be proportional to the gravity of the consequences.

  6. Withdraw NPS, Restore statutory pension to all employees.

    Running staff are the worst affected category among the railway employees with NPS, as they loose the55% retirement benefit – a compensation for the life time onerous service- under NPS. So OPS should be extended to all.

  7. Install RDSO designed tool boxes in Loco cab.

    We appreciate the decision of Railway Board to install the tool box in the Loco Cab and to rationalize & to reduce the tools vide letter No. Mo. 2019/Elec. ( TRS)/44/6 Line box dated 19/07/2023. We are of the opinion that the tools listed optional are also absolutely necessary for train working.

    Detonator is designed to explode under pressure. So there is standard instructions for its safe transportation and handling. They should be protected in tin cases with paper wrapped around besides keeping a layer of waste cotton at the bottom and top of the tin case and that too shall be carried in a wooden box. Detonator tins are not supposed to be carried by the Crew or Train Manager on the busy platforms. We demand to install the tool boxes in all locomotives with a time frame, duly providing all the tools and detonators in it.

  8. Fill up all vacancies in Loco running category.

    We welcome the decision of the finance ministry to restore the powers of Railway Ministry for creation of posts in running cadre and appreciate the Board for its speedy follow up action vide letter dated 13/06/23. We urge the zonal and divisional administrations to undertake cadre review on war foot.

    The increase in speed, load & length of trains, increase in number of signals & their varying combination, variant models of locomotives, parallel running of trains on multiple lines, increased stresses out of change over from joint families to micro families etc. Ha e worsened the working atmosphere of loco running staff. So we demand to review the crew strength suitably to achieve the following.

    a) Zero tolerance to longer hours duty
    b) Periodical rest independent of trip/ daily rest
    c) Additional lea e reserve to cater maternity leave, child care leave & LWP essentially needed by the women folk to do justice to their motherhood.
    d) Bring adequate increase in training programs

    The entire loco running staff are saddened with the notification of mere 5696 vacancies in CEN No 01/ 2024, while the shortage of staff to the sanctioned strength as on December 2023 is 16373. In all previous recruitments, the notified vacancies were more or less equal to the then existed vacancies under the jurisdiction of the various RRBs. The process of conducting departmental examinations are also stalled due to reluctance of the local administrations to relieve the limited staff in those sections.

    So, we demand a review in the intend placed before Railway Recruitment Boards.

 

Thanking You

Ernakulam,
21/02/24

Yours faithfully

 

 

 

 

 

 

K C James, Secretary General,
AILRSA

 

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments