Maharashtra’s 50th anniversary on May 1 would have been blemished, if the motormen on both Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) had gone on hunger strike, as planned.
However the hunger strike has now been postponed to May 3, when more than 1,000 motormen will start running trains as per schedule, but will not eat anything during work hours. The indefinite hunger strike will begin at 6 am on May 3.
“We had initially planned to go on an indefinite hunger strike on May 1, but then we didn’t want to spoil people’s moods,” said S.V. Hardikar, core member, Joint Action Forum comprising of motormen of both Central and Western Railway.
The motormen are agitating against the Railway Board and Rail Ministry.
The motormen are demanding assistant loco pilots or assistant motormen in every local train. They also want the vacancies for motormen working in WR and CR to be filled. They want their working hours to be reduced and their pay scales revised according to the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.
“We are unhappy because the fast track committee set up by the Railway Board has not delivered on its promise of meeting our demands within two months. May 1 will be the wrong day to go on a strike as there will hardly be any commuters travelling on that day,” said a motorman on the condition of anonymity.
The committee was supposed to meet the motormen in Mumbai to look into their demands after which they were to prepare and submit a report within two months. However, the Joint Action Force claims nothing has happened.
The disgruntled motormen will protest with banners displaying their set of demands at Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus stations for 12 hours starting at 8 am on May 3.
The motormen began their protest on January 26 when they threatened to go on mass leave.
On the previous day the Railway Board had promised to set up a fast track committee comprising five members and also accepted two of their demands--of giving an allowance on national holidays and overtime for night shifts.