‘These jobs are tough’: Railways to bar women from some jobs
Women might not be able to apply for some Railway jobs in the future.
Citing tough and unfavourable working conditions for drivers, porters, guards and so-called gangmen (or trackmen who inspect tracks), Indian Railways has written to the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), asking them to allow it to hire only men for these post, and adding that it has also received several representations from women employees in these posts complaining of unsafe and tough working conditions in some sectors.
“The former chairman of the Railway Board received a representation from women staff of Indian Railways following which a letter has been written to DOPT suggesting women should be excluded from few jobs. The safety of women and working conditions are the primary concern; currently these posts are open for everyone irrespective of gender,” said SN Agrawal, member (staff) of the Indian Railways.
Of the 1.3 million employees of Indian Railways, around 2-3% are women and most of them are posted in desk jobs. Drivers, guards and trackmen, the so-called running staff, are supposed to be available at any time.
“Railways cannot discriminate on the basis of gender but the fact is that these jobs are tough irrespective of the gender. The running staff gets additional benefit because of the tough nature of the job. I don’t think DOPT will agree to the Railway’s request,” said Sri Prakash, who retired as member (traffic) of Indian Railways in 2009.
Drivers are called locopilots ( there are usually two in a train); guards are stationed in the last coach of the train for signalling purposes; porters are required to lift heavy luggage at stations; while trackmen or gangmen are supposed to check tracks.
A member of the Railways union said the department should focus on providing better facilities to everyone. “Railways does not have required infrastructure for women and that’s why they want women to not come forward for these jobs. Instead of excluding women, railways should improve the facility for them,” said Sanjay Pandhi, working president of Indian Railways Loco Running Men Organisation.