Sub: Humble request to accord justice to Railway Engineers.
All India Railway Engineers Federation (AIREF), the sole apex body representing about eighty thousand Junior Engineers, Senior Section Engineers, CMS, DMS and SE(IT) of Indian Railways through Zonal Railway & PU Engineers Associations extends heartiest congratulation to you for feeling proud for taking pledge to serve countrymen as “Pradhan Sevak” and we Railway Engineers congratulate our Hon’ble Prime Minister on the republic day of India for making it great historical event with the great vision for India. AIREF requests your goodself to kindly spare few minutes from your busy schedule to go through this memorandum. The country has expressed its obligation for this ‘dynamic reforms’ launched to carry the country from a level of grave declining to a height of destination and ensure India to take a global leadership. Your voice “Come & Make in India” has inspired the engineers of the country to put their best efforts to make India as No-1 among all countries of the world in the technical aspects. We, the railway engineers also feel proud to be awarded by you the new task in adopting new technology and modern innovation in Railway Communication sector to run “Bullet Trains”, especially altogether in a “new and congenial environment prevailing in the country to carry faster the growth and development in every sector of our public life including, Railways, which carries ‘a Lion’s share of this national responsibility’ as a part of your dream “DIGITAL INDIA”.
Sir, when engineers of the country are energized with your calls to develop the technology in the country, at that time railway engineers, who dedicate every thing they have to breath life into Railway System are frustrated with humiliation made by railway administration. The diploma & degree engineers are recruited as Railway Engineers (Junior Engineers and Senior Section Engineers) in Indian Railways. We, the railway engineers work in all technical departments including Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Signal & Telecommunications, Drawing & Design, Store, C&M laboratories, Information Technology, etc. and play a crucial role in safe and efficient running of trains including construction/production, design, repair & maintenance of tracks, bridges, buildings. rolling stock, locomotives, coaches, electrical services, OHE, signals, telecommunications.
Thus, we are considered as “Backbone of Railways”. Due to continuous upgradation of technology, we have to constantly upgrade our knowledge for efficient execution of works and to guide and train the workforce to meet the challenge ahead. Thus, we control, guide and execute the works of about nine lakhs technical staff which is more than 50% of total railway employees. We also carry additional responsibility in timely transportation of essential commodities and relief materials during the period of Natural Calamity and also in moving Army personnel and arm required during the period of external aggression. But, due to erroneous policies made by Railway Ministry, we have been frustrated. Many experienced engineers have left Railways and young talented engineers do not prefer to join Railways. It has been affecting seriously the safety & economy of Railways.
The following main injustices have demoralized us.
Injustice 1 : As per India Gazette Notification No-605 dtd. 09.04.2009 (Annexure-1), Junior Engineers of all other departments of central government have been given Group-B status. But Ministry of Railways implemented it partially vide RBE No- 05/2010 dtd.08.01.2010 (Annexure-2). Thus, Group-D staff have been upgraded to Group-C and equated with us. This partial implementation creates discontentment towards discharge of duty satisfactorily. It will endanger safety of Railways in future. Also we loose social status at par with engineers of other departments, who have been upgraded to Group-B as per above Gazette Notification. Due to this wrong policy, a qualified engineer is now placed at bottom most cadre of the central government with upgraded Group-D staff. Our upgradation to Group-B will put no financial burden on Railways rather it will create better working atmosphere.
Injustice 2 : Due to adoption of oldest act i.e. Trade Union Act – 1926, we have been clubbed with Group-D staff in same platform. Hence, our grievances had never been represented properly at appropriate levels, for which we have been degraded by successive pay commissions. Comparisons in tabulated form are enclosed for your kind information (Annexure-3). But unfortunately, these cases were never put up in National Anomaly Committees constituted during 5th and 6th Pay commissions by labour federations or Railway Administration.
Injustice 3 : At present, both a diploma holder in nursing and a degree holder in engineering join Railways in same grade pay i.e. Rs. 4600/-. The nurse gets two assured promotions during service period, where as the degree engineer does not get a single promotion (Annexure-4). This is worst ever humiliation to a qualified engineer.
The above main injustices have been done with us on account of absence of a Democratic service platform of our own to put forth our genuine cause rightly, at right time to the best appreciation of the administration in the Railways. We have been clubbed with labour unions/federations, which are the representatives of labours/workers and not engineers. These unions have never represented engineers properly for which injustices made against us have never been put up before National Anomaly Committee.
The matter has come under intensive examinations and debates over the years by High Power Committees and law makers who are of unanimously opinion that the Railway Engineers should be accorded separate recognition to represent their problems at appropriate level, beyond the purview of the two existing Railway Labor Unions and anomalies prevailing in the pay scales, as compared to that of the engineers working in other departments of Government of India and under state Governments need to be rectified with due attentions for re-determining their service status, promotion prospectus etc.
Railway Safety Review Committee (Justice Khanna Committee) has categorically recommended debarring us from Railway Labor Unions and to give us separate recognition in view of our separate nature of duties, responsibilities, mode of recruitment and training etc. Similarly, Justice K. N. Wanchoo Committee has also recommended in favour of us. 2nd Indian National Labour Commission 2002 has also recommended to keep supervisory category separate from workers union (Annexure-5).
Unfortunately, the recommendations were not accepted by Ministry of Railways for the want of modification of this oldest trade union act (Annexure-6), which was prepared during British rule. A clarification received from the Minister of Defence in his letter 4th July 2009 addressed to Sri Guru Das Gupta, Hon’ble Member of Parliament loudly justified the reasons for not entertaining employees of supervisory category (engineers) under labour unions for purpose of administrative conveniences (Annexure-7). Ministry of Defence could modify the old trade union act for betterment of department, even constitution is being amended as per requirement but the reluctance of Ministry of Railways appears to be unjustified. This is also against social justice by clubbing engineers in trade union activities. Indian Railways is the biggest technical organization in the country having around eighty thousands engineers, but it does not have separate recognized platform for us.
All other departments of central government and all state governments have recognized their Engineers’ Associations. Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been given separate recognized platform during year 1997. Recently Railway Ministry has recognized two caste based associations i.e. All India SC & ST Railway Employees Association and All India OBC Railway Employees Association to participate in PREM group in addition to both trade federations and RPF. More over, Class-III staff & Class-IV staff associations of Railway Board within Ministry of Railways are also recognized separately though there is very less staff strength in Railway Board in comparison to zones. These both associations are also excluded from two recognized trade unions/federations.
AIREF has shown its aggravation by staging several demonstrations/Rallies at New Delhi and railway zonal headquarters. Several hon’ble ministers and Members of Parliaments have been recommending our demands to the Ministry of Railways time to time. But, Ministry of Railways has given conventional replies to safeguard labour unions declining to modify the oldest Act. The labour unions are putting pressure on administration not to recognize and not to give Group-B status, otherwise their membership strength will get reduced and also they will not be able to interfere in our daily works. For benefit of particular labour unions, the fate of Railways should not be sacrificed.
Prayer : Sir, for any development or upgradation/adoption of technology within the Railways such as running of Bullet Trains, we, the railway engineers play the frontline role. But due to non-recognition of our platform i.e. AIREF, we are not permitted to share our experiences/views directly with the administration. Under the aforementioned circumstances and in view of the wider opinions and recommendations by different Expert Committees and law makers (Annexure-5), we request your good self to direct the Railway Ministry to accept the following main demands for betterment of Railways.
1) The AIREF be recognized to provide opportunity to about eighty thousand of its members to represent their genuine cause, outside of the Railway Labor Unions in the lager interest of better administration and safe functioning of Railways & its economy.
2) Group-B status to all Railway Engineers as per India Gazette Notification No-605 dtd. 09.04.2009 with Gazetted status & redesignation as “Assistant Engineers” to senior Section Engineers.
3) The minimum grade pay to Junior Engineers and Senior Section Engineers be determined at Rs. 5400/- (PB-3) and Rs.6600/- (PB-3).
4) We may be provided with time bound promotions at par with the facilities enjoyed by the Engineers in other departments of central government.
Even after 161 years of formation of Railways and 67 years of independence, the qualified engineers are considered as organized labours in Railways by virtue of the oldest Trade Union Act-1926. After being sworn in as Prime Minister, you have directed to scratch all old Rules and Acts. Keeping faith on your direction, we are hopeful that this oldest act made during British period i.e. Trade Union Act -1926 would be modified at the earliest to encourage the railway engineers to put their best efforts for betterment of Railways and not to choose to leave Railways. AIREF also requests to you to kindly spare few time from your busy schedule to discuss with our delegates on betterment of Railways as per your convenience. AIREF extends its sincere thanks to you for sparing valuable time to go through this memorandum. Considering that prayers to great hearts has never gone vain,