PROCEEDINGS OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING OF AIRF HELD IN NEW DELHI ON 13-14 MARCH, 2018

| April 18, 2018 | Reply

Pursuant to unanimous resolution of the 93rd Annual Convention of AIRF, held at Gorakhpur from 15-17 November, 2017 and there being no progress on the three major demands of the Railwaymen, viz. (i) Guaranteed Pension and Family Pension to NPS Covered Employees(ii) Improvement in   Minimum Wage and Fitment Formula and (iii) Railway Safety from privatization/outsourcing, “Massive March to Parliament” was organized by the All India Railwaymen’s Federation in the morning of 13th March, 2018 in New Delhi, which was largely attended by the office-bearers, activists and grassroots workers of AIRF affiliates, numbering more than 50,000.  The “March to Parliament” started from AIRF Office, 4 State Entry Road, was culminated into a Mass Rally at the Parliament Street, New Delhi. …

PROCEEDINGS OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING OF AIRF

HELD ON 13-14.03.2018 IN NEW DELHI 

Pursuant to unanimous resolution of the 93rd Annual Convention of AIRF, held at Gorakhpur from 15-17 November, 2017 and there being no progress on the three major demands of the Railwaymen, viz. (i) Guaranteed Pension and Family Pension to NPS Covered Employees, (ii) Improvement in   Minimum Wage and Fitment Formula and (iii) Railway Safety from privatization/outsourcing, a “Massive March to Parliament” was organized by the All India Railwaymen’s Federation in the morning of 13th March, 2018 in New Delhi, which was largely attended by the office-bearers, activists and grassroots workers of AIRF affiliates, numbering more than 50,000.  The “March to Parliament” started from AIRF Office, 4 State Entry Road, was culminated into a Mass Rally at the Parliament Street, New Delhi.

Addressing the “Massive Rally”, General Secretary AIRF, Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra said that, there has been serious resentment and deep sense of frustration amongst the Central Government Employees, including the Railwaymen, on the disappointing report of the 7th CPC. As such, a unanimous decision was taken by the NJCA to launch an “Indefinite Strike” of all the Central Government Employees, including the Railwaymen, commencing from 06:00 O’clock on 11th July 2016, on account of government’s intervention and negotiations held with the Group of Ministers, comprising of Hon’ble Home Minister, Hon’ble Finance Minister, Hon’ble Minister for Railways and Hon’ble State Minister for Railways, on 30th June, 2016, and their assurance that, the grievances of the Central Government Employees, in regard to improvement in Minimum Wage and Fitment Formula and Guaranteed Pension and Family Pension to NPS Covered Employees etc., would be addressed in a limited timeframe(four months) by setting-up an “Empowered Committee” for the purpose. Owing to the above assurance from the GoMs ibid, the NJCA had unanimously decided to defer the proposed “Indefinite Strike” of the Central Government Employees, scheduled to be commenced from 11th July, 2016.   

Com. Mishra further said that, though the GoMs had assured to resolve these issues within a period of four months, however, ironically enough, more than 18-month time has already elapsed, but nothing fruitful outcome has yet evolved, as a result of which, patience of the Railwaymen has crossed the limit.

Com. Mishra also mentioned that, the present government is pursuing the policies of contractualisation  and privatization at a more faster pace, and a number of activities of perennial nature are being outsourced, which is posing serious threat on Railway Safety as well. The number of these contractual workers is increasing day-by-day, he said, and they are being exploited to the greatest extent, on the other hand, large-number of posts in Safety Categories are lying vacant for the last more than two years.

The General Secretary added that, the Railwaymen are exerting hard round-the-clock in all odds and climatic conditions to keep the wheels of the Indian Railways moving. They even have to sacrifice their precious lives while performing duties, nevertheless, Ministry of Railways and Government of India are not taking appropriate action to improve upon their working and living conditions despite sustained persuasions by the AIRF.

The General Secretary further added that, aggrieved by the indifferent attitude of the Ministry of Railways and Government of India in not addressing their above-mentioned major demands, thousands of the Railwaymen from all over the Indian Railways have arrived in this mammoth gathering to knock at the door of the Parliament to awake the government.

He also informed the gathering that the committee constituted to review the NPS has reportedly submitted its report around 10-month back, but the government is sitting on the same and no action is being taken to provide for Guaranteed Pension and Family Pension, as Social Security, to the NPS Covered Employees.

He warned the government to take a lesson from the serious resentment of the Railwaymen and to resolve their grievances without further loss of time; else AIRF would be compelled to intensity the movement to resort to direct trade union action, entire responsibility of which shall squarely rest with the Government of India and Ministry of Railways.

Presiding over the mammoth gathering of the Railwaymen, arrived in the “March to Parliament”,                 Com. Rakhal Das Gupta, President/AIRF, said that, AIRF has rendered all out cooperation for smooth and efficient running of the Railways, but this should not be misunderstood. The Government of India and Ministry of Railways must resolve the burning problems of the Railwaymen, like scrapping of NPS(now called National Pension Scheme), improvement in Minimum Wage and Pay Fixation Formula to all categories of the Railwaymen and stop outsourcing of perennial nature works in violation of  provisions of the Contract Labour(Regulation & Abolition) Act and settle all other burning grievances, otherwise All India Railwaymen’s Federation would be compelled to intensify the struggle.

The rally was also addressed by the General Secretary, National Union of Seafarers of India, Bro. Abdulgani Y. Serang, Com. K.K.N. Kutty, President, Confederation of CGEs & Workers’,              Com. N. Kanniah, Working President/AIRF, Com. J.R. Bhosale, Treasurer/AIRF, Com. Ch. Sankara Rao, Asstt. General Secretary/AIRF, Com. Mukesh Mathur, Asstt. General Secretary/AIRF, Com. Mukesh Galav, Asstt. General Secretary/AIRF, Com. A.M. D’Cruz, Asstt. General Secretary/AIRF, Com. S.K. Tyagi, Asstt. General Secretary/AIRF, Com. Venu P. Nair, Asstt. General Secretary/AIRF, Com. R.D. Yadav, Vice President/AIRF and other office-bearers of the federation who lead the March. Ms Jaya Agarwal, Convener, Women Wing of AIRF, Ms. Champa Verma, National Secretary and President, All India HMS Women Committee and Ms Preeti Singh, Youth Rep., AIRF-ITF(Asia/Pacific Region), also addressed the said rally.

Thereafter, AIRF Delegation, comprising of Com. Rakhal Das Gupta, Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, Com. N. Kanniah, Com. J.R. Bhosale, Com. R.D. Yadav, Com. S.K. Tyagi, Com. P.K. Patsahani,   Com. L.N. Pathak and other office-bearers of the federation, handed over a copy of the Memorandum, containing the significant demands of the Railwaymen, to Hon’ble Minister for Railways.

Subsequently, ITF Expert Group also met Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal, and had  detailed discussions on the Indian Railways as well as ill-effects of the Privatization and Restructuring of the Railways globally.

MEETING OF AIRF WORKING COMMITTEE

 Working Committee Meeting of AIRF started from 16:00 hrs. on 13th March, 2018 in T.N. Bajpai Memorial Hall, 12 Chelmsford Road, New Delhi, and Com. Rakhal Das Gupta, President AIRF, was in the Chair.

 Names of the Working Committee Members, who attended the meeting, are annexed to these proceedings as “Annexure – A”.

 At the outset, General Secretary AIRF, Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, thanked the General Secretaries of AIRF affiliates, Working Committee Members and rank and file of the affiliated AIRF unions for making the “March to Parliament” a grand success.

 Thereafter, he spoke on the NPS, improvement in Minimum Wage and Fitment Formula, filling-up of vacancies in the Railways, Running Staff related issues, outsourcing, anti-labour policies of the government, etc. etc.

Com. Mishra further stated that, major issues of the “Strike Charter of Demands”, viz. improvement in Minimum Wage and Fitment Formula, scrapping of NPS and restoration of the Guaranteed Pension and Family Pension Scheme for post-01.01.2004 appointees, wholesale outsourcing of perennial nature departmental works, heading towards contractualisation, and privatization, non-filling-up of large-number of vacancies in Railways, Running Staff related issues etc., still remained unresolved. As such, in the sequence of agitational programmes; a three-day nationwide “Relay Hunger Strike”, commencing from 8th May, 2018, which is a historic day of the 1974 strike, is to be organized at the Branch level all over the Indian to further press upon the Government of India to address the long pending demands of the Railwaymen.

 Informing the House about the results of the Railway Institutes, Co-operative Societies and Banks elections, held in different zones, he expressed satisfaction that AIRF affiliated unions have won these elections with overwhelming majority and the management in these Co-operative Societies and Banks is of our affiliated unions.

He further asked the Working Committee Members to take-up Education Programmes to organize the Youth seriously and informed that, AIRF is planning to hold 04 TOT (Training of Trainers) Programmes with the support of the ITF this year also for which appropriate trainers should be invited.

Concluding his speech, he called upon the House to forge unity to strengthen the organization, so that, we can successfully face future challenges.

Addressing the House on this occasion, President AIRF, Com. Rakhal Das Gupta, offered warm welcome to the participants and urged upon to make “Hunger Strike Programme” a grand success.

He also advised the affiliated unions to forward all the Signature Campaign Papers against NPS to AIRF Office, so as to compile and further submit the same to the government.

He emphasized the need of properly organizing the Youth and Women Railway Employees to make the union stronger.

He reminded that the affiliated unions have to clear all the outstanding dues related to electricity and water charges as also license fee of the buildings which are in possession of the unions as Branch/ Divisional/Zonal Offices, by the end of May 2018, so that our unions are not deprived of contesting secret ballot elections for recognition on these petty issues.

He further mentioned that, we must be taken the challenge through the Social Media, particularly in the coming secret ballot elections and should hold Social Media Workshops at all the levels to keep our rank and file aware with the use and abuse of it.

The General Secretary also informed the House that, so far as LARSGESS is concerned, it has been put on hold, based on the judgement of the Hon’ble Court and Railway Board have to review it, and we are regularly pursuing the issue, so that, the scheme be continued further, and the matter, at present, is with the Attorney General of India and is being pursued by the CRB himself.

The General Secretary also spoke on absorption of the Course Completed Act Apprentices in Railways, benchmarking for financial upgradation under MACPS, non-implementation of the decision of the Joint Committee on Trackmen, viz. upgradation of the Trackmen, as per our agreement arrived at between the Railway Board and the Federation, in the ratio of 10:20:20:50, discussions held with the Railway Board on revision of Running Allowance and other allowances pertaining to Running Staff etc.

He further informed the House that, we are hopeful that, certainly percentage of apex level Group `C’ posts would be upgraded to Group `B’.

The General Secretary further mentioned about the need of organizing the Youth and Women to make our organization strong and be prepared for further struggles.

He also informed the participants about his meeting with Hon’ble Minister for Railways who has categorically assured that there would be no wholesale privatization in the Indian Railways, but there is all-round outsourcing in all the departments, including perennial nature works.

 The President also informed the House that, in the morning of next day, i.e. on 14th March, 2018, an Expert Group of the ITF on Railway Privatization and Restructuring Globally, comprising of –                     (i) Mr. Oystein Aslaksen(Norway), Chairman Expert Committee of the ITF on Railway Privatization and Restructuring Globally, (ii)  Mr. Julio Adolfo Sosa(Argentina), President Argentinean Railway Workers’ Union, (iii) Ms Sabine Trier(Brussels), Deputy General Secretary European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), (iv) Mr. Simon Weller(UK), Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen(ASLEF) U.K., (v) Mr. Asbjorn Wahl(Norway), Chair of the ITF Urban Transport Committee ITF London and (vi) Mr. Deniz Akdogan(Turkey), Senior Section Asstt., ITF London, would also join our Working Committee Meeting for interaction with the participants on the impact of Privatization in Indian Railways and members of the said Expert Group would also explain their experience in their respective countries, as such, Working Committee Members must reach the venue of the meeting well in time. He further added that, our General Secretary, Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, is also one of the esteemed members of this Expert Group.

The meeting was then adjourned till next date.

14TH MARCH, 2018  

The meeting of the Working Committee of AIRF started at 10 o’clock on 14th March, 2018 in T.N. Bajpai Memorial Hall, 12 Chelmsford Road, New Delhi, and Com. Rakhal Das Gupta, President AIRF, was in the Chair.

The members of the Expert Group of the ITF, constituted for analyzing the effects of Privatization in Railways, PPP, Restructuring etc., consisting of – (i) Mr. Oystein Aslaksen(Norway), Chairman Expert Committee of the ITF on Railway Privatization and Restructuring Globally, (ii)  Mr. Julio Adolfo Sosa (Argentina), President Argentinean Railway Workers’ Union, (iii) Ms Sabine Trier(Brussels), Deputy General Secretary European Transport Workers’ Federation(ETF), (iv) Mr. Simon Weller(UK), Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen(ASLEF) UK, (v) Mr. Asbjorn Wahl(Norway), Chair of the ITF Urban Transport Committee ITF London, (vi) Mr. Shiva Gopal Mishra, General Secretary AIRF and                (vi) Mr. Deniz Akdogan(Turkey), Senior Section Asstt. ITF, were also present on the dais with a view to explain the experience of their respective countries.

At the outset, the members of the Expert Committee were offered warm welcome by AIRF leadership, presenting them bouquet, shawl and memento.

Bro. Sangam Tripathy, Asstt. Regional Secretary, Sister Nishi Kapahi, Education & Women’s Coordinator and Com. Arvind Kaushal, Researcher, ITF(Asia/Pacific Region), Delhi Office and Shri Sashikant, Researcher AIRF/ITF Delhi Office, were also present on this occasion.

Historically, Chairman Railway Board, Shri Ashwini Lohani, Member Staff Railway Board, Shri D.K. Gayen, Director General(Pers.) Railway Board, Shri Anand Mathur, Addl. Member(Staff) Railway Board, Shri Manoj Pandey, Executive Director(IR) Railway Board, Shri Alok Kumar, were also present in the meeting to grace the occasion and to facilitate the interaction with the Expert Group of the ITF.  

Speaking on this occasion, Chairman Railway Board, Shri Ashwini Lohani, mentioned that, Indian Railways is the biggest organization in the world, having manpower more than 1.3 million and the single oldest organization under one umbrella as a government department. He said that, Ministry of Railways is fully concerned for the welfare of the Railwaymen as also we are trying our best to provide safe and comfortable service to rail users as well. He further mentioned that, AIRF and its affiliated unions are playing vital role in improving upon the working as well as living conditions of the Railwayen and the General Secretary AIRF, Shri Shiva Gopal Mishra and President AIRF, Shri Rakhal Das Gupta, are very well coordinating between the Railway Administration and the Railwaymen.

Addressing the audience on this occasion, Director General(Pers.) Railway Board, Shri Anand Mathur, congratulated AIRF for organizing such an excellent interaction event, wherein dignitaries from different countries were participating. He further added that, all the Railwaymen, right from lowest to apex level; have to work hard to make the Railway Services user-friendly.

Thereafter, Interaction Session started.

INTERACTION SESSION

At the outset, Mr. Oystein Aslaksen(Norway), Chairman Expert Committee of the ITF on Railway Privatization and Restructuring Globally, thanked AIRF leadership for making nice arrangements for the “Interaction Session” between the Expert Group and Working Committee Members of AIRF. He further said that, they were in India to gain experience about the present status of the Indian Railways. He also mentioned that, AIRF is playing an outstanding role in the ITF and is the largest affiliate of the ITF. He also expressed the views on his experience in case of outsourcing and privatization in the Railways world over, which in turn, has resulted in increase of the Unorganized Labour, simultaneously decreasing the strength of the organized workers in the Railways. He emphasized to organize the Unorganized Sector Workers, so that, the issue of outsourcing and the trend of privatization could be tackled successfully. He informed that, the Railway Section of the ITF, wherein members of the ITF affiliates are involved, has three policies – (i) Outsourcing, (ii) Solidarity/Support, (iii) Organizing the Unorganized Sector Workers. He also informed that, the ITF has established a Working Group on Restructuring and Privatization, which includes AIRF General Secretary, Bro. Shiva Gopal Mishra too. He said that, multi-national companies are entering in the Railway Industry and privatization is taking place in almost all the countries. He further said that, this is a political fight and we will have to fight unitedly on these issues. He also spoke on the ITF slogan – “Railways is a Public Service and it should remain in the hands of the public”.

Ms Sabine Trier(Brussels), Deputy General Secretary European Transport Workers’ Federation(ETF), while talking about the European Railway Policies, spoke on the European Union Rail Model, which has the objective of “Single Union”, bringing Railways of 28 countries together. With the help of PowerPoint Presentation, she also focused on Restructuring of the European Union Railway System. She added that, for the people’s convenience; there should be no privatization, fragmentation, etc. She also spoke on technical harmonization as also harmonization of the Railway Safety, which gets impaired due to privatization of the Railways.

 Mr. Simon Weller(UK), Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen(ASLEF) UK, while speaking on the Railway Reforms in UK, briefed, how Railways was privatized in UK as also its aftermath, in detail.

 Mr. Julio Adolfo Sosa(Argentina), President Argentinean Railway Workers’ Union,  said, “it is a matter of proud for me that I have been here with you and can share my experience with you”. He added, “I would like to say that, our Railways are similar to the Indian Railways System and we are fighting against the menace of the privatization”. He also spoke in detail, how Argentinean Railway faced the challenge of the privatization.

Mr. Asbjorn Wahl(Norway), Chair of the ITF Urban Transport Committee ITF London, spoke in detail on  Public-Private Partnership.

Mr. Deniz Akdogan(Turkey), Senior Section Asstt. ITF, also spoke in detail about the privatization taking place in the Railways in his country.

The General Secretary, through the Power Point Presentation, briefed about the ill-effects of the Public-Private Partnership.

He also spoke on outsourcing/privatization taking place in the Railways.

Concluding his presentation, Com. Mishra strongly opposed the policy of outsourcing/privatization in the Indian Railways and asserted that, AIRF is bound to agitate against these retrograde policies of the government with all the might at its command.

During the Interaction Session, hearty tributes were also paid to Ms Ann Anderson, General Secretary of the Clerical and Commercial Workers’ Union(CCWU), Caribbean Sub-Regional Coordinator and  member of the ITF Executive Committee, who, all of a sudden, left for her heavenly abode, on 13.03.2018.

The President, while concluding the discussion, said that, the “Interaction Session” was very interesting and fruitful as we have been able to know about the experience of Outsourcing, Public-Private Partnership, Privatization etc. in the Railway System world over.

He further said that, we are thankful to the ITF for sending the Expert Group to visit AIRF for brainstorming interaction.

He also thanked the Chairman and other officials of the Railway Board who took part in the “Interaction Session”.

IMPORTANT DECISIONS AND LINE OF ACTION

After detailed deliberations; the following decisions were taken unanimously:-

  • Inordinate delay in resolving the major issues, viz. Guaranteed Pension/Family Pension to NPS Covered Railway Employees, improvement in Minimum Wage and Fitment Formula, contractorisation and privatisation moves, issues related to Running Staff and other pending issues of the “Strike Charter”, a 72-hrs. “Relay Hunger Strike”, commencing from 8th May, 2018, to be observed at the Branch level over the Indian Railways by the affiliated unions.
  • All the affiliated unions must clear all the outstanding dues, viz. Licence Fee, Electricity Bill and Water Charges etc. of the union offices at the earliest possible; latest by 31st May, 2018.
  • Mapping of the individual Railway employees; keeping in view secret ballot elections.
  • 94th Annual Conference of AIRF shall be held from 1st to 3rd November, 2018 at Kota(West Central Railway), to be hosted by West Central Railway Employees Union’.

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.

 No.AIRF/23                                                                                                            Dated: April 14, 2018

No.AIRF/89

               

Forwarded to the General Secretaries of all affiliated unions – for information and necessary action.

Category: AIRF, Trade Union Activities

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