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Don’t take a train after midnight

mumbai Updated: Jan 25, 2010 00:59 IST
Shashank Rao
Shashank Rao
Hindustan Times
Mumbai

After Monday midnight, don’t expect to reach your destination anywhere in the city by local trains.

A restricted number of trains will ply on Tuesday as more than 1,000 motormen on both Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) will go on mass leave as talks with the rail authorities on Sunday failed.

“More than 1,000 motormen from both WR and CR will not work on January 26. We will meet at a particular location to voice our demands and not sit at home,” said Devendra Yadav, a WR motorman and chief convener of the Joint Action Forum of WR and CR Motormen.

The motormen have five demands: provide an assistant to every motorman, set up a proper pay grade system, recalculate allowance from Rs 1.67 per km to Rs 2.87 per km, pay approximately Rs 200 to those who work on national holidays, and an allowance for night shifts.

Sources said the Railway board has accepted two of the demands — providing allowance on national holidays for night shifts.

Though WR has not accepted the leave applications and CR claimed it hasn’t received any application, motormen refused to report to work.

“We have refused their leave applications,” said S. Gupta, WR chief public relations officer.

Rail authorities claimed 40 per cent of motormen will participate in the ‘strike’ as recognised unions and guards are not supporting it. “We hope the unions keep their word and not join them,” said a WR official, requesting anonymity.

The 250 motormen, who are part of the unions, will run trains on Tuesday. “We are ready to work and are looking forward for the authorities to protect us. The issues raised by these motormen have already been taken up by us,” said Venu Nair, general secretary, National Rail Mazdoor Union.

Security tightened at stations

Having learnt their lesson on January 22 when CR motormen went on a flash strike, rail authorities have asked for additional forces to tackle any untoward incident on Tuesday.

Around 10,000 policemen will be deployed at major stations and railway colonies.

On January 22, at 3.30 pm, CR motormen refused to work overtime and struck work, leaving trains on tracks.

Services were disrupted and the crowds grew by the minute at various platforms. Chaos prevailed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the railway police sought help from the Mumbai police to bring the situation under control.

Railway Board to invoke ESMA?

Rail authorities and the state government are considering invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against motormen. Under this Act, the police can arrest a person who is party to strike or supports it without a warrant.

“The decision to invoke ESMA has to be taken by Rail Board and we have already apprised them of the situation. Invoking ESMA can be one of the options to prevent any untoward incident on January 26,” said S.M.A. Razi, acting chief public relations officer, CR.

But motormen are undeterred. “We will go ahead with the mass leave and closure of train services even if the railway authorities decide to invoke ESMA,” said Yadav.