Railway Unions threaten revolt over fare rollback
New Delhi: With the Trinamool Congress resolute on rollback of rail fares hiked by Dinesh Trivedi, the Indian Railways (IR) faces the threat of a ‘revolt’ by its employees, who are steadfast in their stand of not wanting IR ‘go the Air India way’.
All important railway employees unions are united against any move to rollback the hike in fares. They see the fare hike as necessary owing to the poor financial health of the organisation.
M Raghavaiah, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen, which is affiliated to the Indian Trade Union Congress, has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which he threatened to “resort to agitation to save the Indian Railways”.
“14 lakh employees of Indian Railways will be compelled to revolt if fare hike is attempted to be rolled back,” he wrote in the letter.
The letter has been signed by the heads of four federations: The All Indian Railwaymen's Federation, the biggest union with 10 lakh members, the Indian Railway Promotee Officers' Association, Federation of Railway Officers Association and the All-India RPF Association.
The last time employees of India’s biggest employer went on strike was in 1974.
The revolt could start from India’s financial nerve centre, Mumbai, as railway unions in the city have threatened to stop the lifeline of Mumbai and outstation trains today.
“All 14 lakh employees of the Indian Railways are with Trivedi. General Secretary JG Mahurkar will reach Mumbai on Monday, and we will register our protest by stopping trains. Trivedi has taken a correct stand for the railway community and we support his budget,” Ajay Singh of the Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh told a newspaper.
On March 14, Trivedi while presenting the Railway Budget proposed a hike in passenger and freight fares to consolidate the railway's finances. He also suggested a number of fundamental changes to improve the functioning of the railways.
But Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee got upset with Trivedi for increasing the fares, demanded a rollback, asking the minister to quit.
However, reports now claim that the new Railway Minister Mukul Roy will rollback only the hike in sleeper class and general class fares, but will the Unions play ball?