In a major policy initiative, the Indian Railways have started the process of staff rationalisation as part of plans to acquire a leaner look by cutting out on extra flab.
In order to implement the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy committee report on rail restructuring, the public transporter has decided to call on the expertise of the best-known consultancy firms.
“Four companies shortlisted include Ernst and Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers, KPMG and Deloitte,” said Pradeep Kumar, Railway Board member (staff).
Among the country’s biggest employers, the Indian Railways have 13.36 lakh personnel, including gazetted and non-gazetted officers, on rolls.
Highlighting the need for a sharp reduction in numbers of Group-A services by merging the existing nine services into either one unified service or two services, the committee has also hinted at reducing staff strength in Group B and C services. “We will also hire a reputed consultant to examine staff requirement of non-gazetted employees,” Kumar said, adding policymakers would study international benchmarks before a decision.
Railway unions, including the All India Railway Men Federation (AIRF) and the National Federation of Indian Railway Men (NFIR), have rejected the recommendations, threatening a tools-down strike in November.
Referring to the committee’s recommendations that the Railways must exit from peripheral activities such as providing medical services, Kumar said it was essential to keep employees in good health. “If the Railways doesn’t, some other agency will have to do it,” he said.