After a day-long struggle with the officials of the finance ministry and without obtaining the mandatory sanction of the Union cabinet, the railways on Friday went ahead with its proposal to award a Diwali bonus equal to 78 days’ salary to its estimated 11 lakh eligible employees.
The order, amounting to a bonus of `8,945 to each employee and an outgo of approximately Rs. 800 crore to the public transporter, will be taken to the cabinet for ‘post-facto’ approval, a senior official said.
Because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s other preoccupations and finance minister Arun Jaitley’s recent health problems, railways minister DV Sadananda Gowda was unable to obtain cabinet clearance to the proposal earlier.
The railways issued the order late Friday evening for the same bonus amount as the one awarded last year.
Rail unions had been demanding a higher amount of bonus this year on grounds that the staff strength had been going down, while workload on employees had increased.
Even as the order has been issued, union leaders are apprehensive that the union cabinet could reduce the bonus amount.
“The consolation is that employees have retained last year’s bonus amount after a great deal of struggle,” All India Railway Men Federation (AIRF) general secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra said.