“There has been no strike in Indian Railways after 1974. Whenever we announced battles, the Indian Government did accept our demands. But the Government is meting injustice to workers leading to our decision to go on strike,“- Harbhajan Singh Sidhu, General Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha
NEW DELHI: Voicing concern over Centre’s plan to introduce reforms in labour laws and liberalise FDI in railways, Hind Mazdoor Sabha has announced a nationwide indefinite strike of railway workers in November. It will be the first general strike by railway workers in 41 years. Employees of other Central Government establishments are likely to join the stir. According to the Hind Mazdoor Sabha website, there are 55 lakh members and still growing.”
Amendments planned by the Centre to labour laws will paralyse workers as they won’t be able to form unions. If anyone tries to raise demands through strike, their protest will be termed illegal. They will be punished, penalized.
“Keeping in mind dilution of labour laws and liberalization of FDI in railways in addition to our 34 other demands, we have decided to call the strike across India,” HMS General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Sidhu said, referring to the amendments proposed to the Industrial Disputes Act and Centre’s plan to allow 100 per cent FDI in railways. Sidhu said allowing FDI will lead to complete control of private parties over railway management and insisted the decision be rolled back.
HMS’s 34-point charter of demands include removing alleged anomalies in Sixth Pay Commission, imposing ban on outsourcing regular works on contract like track maintenance and recruiting personnel. Sidhu said employees from departments of defence, postal services, coal, civil aviation, port and dock, income and sales tax too will join the railway men in the strike.
HMS said Indian Railway employees had last called for a strike in 1974. Around 17 lakh workers were believed to have participated in the 20-day strike affecting services.
“There has been no strike in Indian Railways after 1974. Whenever we announced battles, the Indian Government did accept our demands. But the Government is meting injustice to workers leading to our decision to go on strike,” Sidhu added.
FDI in Railways
The Govt. (vide PN 8/2014 dated 26th August, 2014) has allowed 100% private and FDI investment under automatic route in Rail infrastructure (other than construction, operation and maintenance of
(i) Suburban corridor projects through PPP,
(ii) High speed train projects,
(iii) Dedicated freight lines,
(iv) Rolling stock including train sets, and locomotives/coaches manufacturing and maintenance facilities, (v) Railway Electrification, (vi) Signaling systems,
(vii) Freight terminals,
(viii) Passenger terminals,
(ix) Infrastructure in industrial park pertaining to railway line/sidings including electrified railway lines and connectivities to main railway line and
(x) Mass Rapid Transport Systems subject to meeting sectoral laws and with the condition that FDI beyond 49% in sensitive areas from security point of view will be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security on a case to case basis.
The proposal for amendments will facilitate private investment including FDI inflows into infrastructure projects including elevated rail corridor project in Mumbai, High Speed Train project, port connectivity projects, dedicated freight corridors, logistic parks, station development, locomotive manufacturing units and power plants, through public-private partnerships which would not only bring in the much needed capital but also technology and global best practices.
Hind Mazdoor Sabha
In December 2008, HMS completes 60 years since its foundation in Calcutta in the newly independent India in 1948. Of course for the labour movement, 6 decades are not too long a way and in that sense we have miles to go still. However, it is a matter of accomplishment for a national trade union center to have survived and grown without being a part of the political parties in a country like India where virtually every other central trade union organization is part of some political party or the other. From about 6 lakhs membership in 1948 to over 55 lakhs and still growing, is no mean achievement. But the times ahead are tough. As it is, nearly 90% of the workforce in the country is unorganized, working in low paid, over worked jobs in dismal working conditions.
(Inputs from PTI)
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