Suburban services in the city may come to a complete standstill on January 26, as motormen on the Central Railway have decided to join the strike planned by the Western Railway. This is the first time in ten years that motormen on both railways will go strike.
The demands of the motormen include a weekly off, more allowances and better working conditions. They will meet the regional labour commissioner on Monday to discuss the matter.
“We have exhausted all democratic ways to represent our issues. To minimise inconvenience to passengers, we chose January 26 as the day of the strike,” a motorman on Western Railway said.
“The guard is supposed to give two bells to start the train. However, he is allowed to give two bells even when the signal is red, which can be risky for passengers. Motormen are always alert but if they start the train by mistake, it could lead to a major disaster,” he added.
There is a conflict between the motormen and the guards as the motormen say they are superior to the guards. A press note states that the responsibilities of a motorman are higher than those of the guard and the pay of the motorman should be higher.
Till a few years ago, the salary grade was higher, but has now been merged. Technically, the guard is in-charge of the train, but the administration does not want to give him more responsibilities, states the note.
“Motormen work single-handedly carrying the responsibility of 6,000-7,000 passengers. There should be an assistant driver to help and till then, we should be compensated with an allowance,” another motorman said.
Railway administration said they will try and sort out the problems and discourage motormen from going on strike. No official was willing to speak on record.