Indian Railways’ signal and telecom workers observe Black Day on 14 March to oppose on-duty deaths of their colleagues, anti-worker measures, and working conditions

 

Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent

 

Due to the sustained efforts of Indian Railways’ signal and telecom (S&T) maintainers and their unions, the Railway Board was forced to issue a letter dated 11th March, instructing all zones to constitute “night duty failure rectification gangs.” This has been one of the main demands for which the S&T workers have been agitating. AIFAP has previously reported about their agitation (https://aifap.org.in/10362/).

S&T workers are however aware that unless they continue to agitate, the instructions given by the Railway Board will remain on paper. That is why, on 14th March, workers of the Indian Railways’ S&T Maintainers Union fasted while working, followed maun vrat (complete silence) and observed the day as a Black Day.

On this occasion, they also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India in Hindi, which is given below.

The letter points out that in just the short period from 22nd January to 2nd March, 9 S&T workers lost their lives in 6 accidents while working. The letter also mentions that when a signal fails, these workers are often summoned to work without a duty roster, which is in total disregard of Railway Board’s own HOER of 2005. The letter demands immediate stoppage of these violations.

The letter also demands that 3 of their colleagues who are still in CBI jail and 1 who has been removed from service, wrongly blamed for the Balasore railway accident, should be allowed back to service.

Railway workers of almost all departments, especially operating departments such as loco pilots, motormen, guards, station masters, S&T maintainers, and track maintainers have been highlighting excessive duty hours as the main reason affecting not only their safety but also the safety of railway passengers. However, apart from blaming railway workers for train accidents, the Railway Board has done precious little as regards the root causes of the problem, i.e. lakhs of vacancies and violation of duty timings as per the Railway Board’s own directives.

 

 

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