They’ve been criticised, arrested and threatened with joblessness, ever since they went on a hunger strike on Monday and left the city’s 7 million train commuters stranded.
Now, Mumbai’s motormen are talking back, through their new blog — motorman.wordpress.com. The blog is maintained by a motorman of 17 years, who has posted a bit of free advice on the site: Never take a job with the government.
So what are their complaints? What do they want? And why did they decide to hold the city to ransom?
“The blog will explain all our views, our problems and our interactions with the railway administration, so that our commuters and the media are kept in the loop,” said a senior Western Railway motorman, on condition of anonymity.
The railway administration has a corporate communication setup, with public relations departments and a budget for media events, the motorman added.
“They always get their views across, even when some of their facts are biased. So we decided that we too needed representation in the public domain. We decided on a blog because they are easily maintained and are the latest craze among the public.”
In addition to regular posts, the site features flash images with slogans that seek to explain the motorman’s perspective — one hits out at the official statistic that says 80 pc of rail accidents are caused by human error; another asks why motormen do not get a weekly day off.
The site also features letters from motormen to the railway board, a list of their demands and a number of media reports, and hits out at railway union leaders for not supporting their cause.
“We believe the blog will also give us a window to the world at large,” said another senior motorman. “For example, a New York train driver suffered a heart attack and died. Highlighting such incidents on our blog will remind us all that we are not alone in our battle.”
The railway administration has declined comment on the development.