Railway employees federation threatens strike over 'privatisation'

Privatisation has "jeopardised" railways and "endangered" safety of passengers across the world, All India Railwaymens Federation on Tuesday claimed and threatened an indefinite strike if the Centre goes ahead with "plans of selling the sector".

Budgam: Privatisation has "jeopardised" railways and "endangered" safety of passengers across the world, All India Railwaymens Federation on Tuesday claimed and threatened an indefinite strike if the Centre goes ahead with "plans of selling the sector".

"We are meeting the committee (formed by the government to look into the privatisation issue) tomorrow in Delhi. We will try our level best to negotiate on the issue and convince the government of India that they should not go ahead with the plan of the privatisation.

"But if they do not agree for any settlement with our federation, then definitely, we will ask all our colleagues, associations, unions and federations of the railways and jointly we will go on an indefinite strike," general secretary of All India Railwaymens Federation, Shiva Gopal Mishra, told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

He said the employees were opposing the move as the system of railways has been "jeopardised" wherever privatisation had been done the world over.

"We are opposing the privatisation of Indian railways because our railways is entirely different from the other railways world over.

"Here the railway transport is the system for the poorest of the poor. And in other countries, they have multi-transport systems. Moreover, we have seen, across the world, that wherever the privatisation has come, the systems of the railways have been jeopardised. The safety has been endangered," he said.

"Moreover, the subsidy to be given to the private entrepreneurs have been increased. So, in our country the privatisation of the Indian railways does not stand anywhere, because it is the cheapest mode for the common people of this country," he said.

Railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda, in his maiden railway budget, had promising to move ahead on the proposal for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Railways. Gowda had said, "We are seeking Cabinet nod to allow FDI in Railway Sector."

Mishra said the NDA government led by Prime Minister

Narendra Modi should not think that the privatisation is the only solution of every problem.

"I 100 per cent agree that the expectations of our people in the country are that they should get a seat, they should get some better facilities in the railways and for that if they (government) want to do anything, that can be done in the government sector also.

"They should not think that the privatisation is the only solution of every problem," he said.

He said the federation was aware that by closing the railway, there would be huge economical loss and inconvenience to the people, but "there was no option left".

"We do not want to play with the country's economy. We know that peoples' movement will be stopped and we do not want that also. But there is no option if the government does not agree for even good things. We are not fighting for our services only, we are fighting for our users and the country also.

"So this government must understand that the railway, which is running under government control for so many years so efficiently, they should not play with that," he said.

Mishra said the government should change its policy and create more finances for improving railways infrastructure.

"They should give money for capacity augmentation. So that we can give more and more services to our users. They (users) have expectations from the railways and jointly we can do that," he said.

He said the federation was of the belief that the government will not "fight" on the issue.

"In the past, UPA also tried all these things. But they understood when we talked to them. I believe that Modi (Prime Minister) is also a sensitive person and should understand that we do not want to fight against the government or anybody but we want to run the railways.

"But if you want to sell the railways, then we have no option but to go on strike," he said.