New Delhi: The lone figure clad in white
waving a red or green flag is a familiar sight at many railway
stations, but today around 3,000 station masters waved a
different flag, demanding the respect they deserve.
Station masters under the banner of All India Station
Masters Association (AISMA) today began their 48-hour-long
hunger strike demanding more consideration in the 6th Pay
Commission, including better pay package.
"We had no issues with the 5th Pay Commission but in the
6th Pay Commission we have been equated with a railway sweeper
in terms of incentives. It is to demand a hike in our pay
package that we are carrying out this hunger strike," said
Secretary General of AISMA U John Vincent Kumar.
The station masters have demanded an entry level scale of
Rs 9,300-34,800 with grade pay of Rs 4,200.
Although their demands were met by the Railway Ministry,
Vincent complained about the "lackadaisical approach" adopted
by the Finance Ministry.
"Our demands have been met by the higher authorities in
the Railways Ministry. However, our request has been pending
for the past two months in the Finance Ministry. Every time we
approach them they cite procedural problems as the hindrance
and give us an indefinite time period," he said.
In addition to a hike in pay, the station masters have
also demanded a 30 per cent safety allowance, appointment of
additional station masters at all stations and a centralised
"Sometimes we are posted in far-flung areas in the
country, bereft of even the most basic amenities. We are
unable to send our children to good schools. We`ve been asking
for a centralised headquarters for the past decade but no one
is doing anything about it," said Shanmugan Kartha, the
station master at Nagercoil station.
Station masters also complained of being overburdened
with too many duties and thus being unable to focus on any
"What exactly do officials want us to focus on? On the
one hand we have to ensure safety measures and on the other
hand we also have to keep an eye on the administration," said
Gokul Varma, station master at Palakkad station.
In addition to the hunger strike, the station masters
also took out a protest march from Jantar Mantar to New Delhi
Railway Station in support of their demands.