IRMF threatens nationwide railway strike

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Ratlam, MP, Mar 11 (UNI) Alleging that Rail Minister Lalu Prasad was neglecting the welfare of railway officials and making false statements regarding privatisation of railways, Indian Railway Men's Federation National Chairman M Raghvaiya has warned that a nationwide strike would be called to protest this.

''On the one hand Mr Prasad announces that he was not privatising Railways, on the other he is making efforts to privatise Railways,'' Mr Raghvaiya told reporters here yesterday.

He was here to take part in the three-day convention of the National Federation of Indian Railway (NFIR).

Privatisation was being carried out in different ways. Catering services had been handed over to private hands by creating the IRCTC. Coach factories had also been given to private hands at some places.

Pointing out that running staff played an important role in the turnaround of Railways, he said the Railway Ministry was not taking adequate steps to resolve their problems. Emergency staff was being made to work 12 hours instead of six hours.

Mr Raghvaiya said the Railway Board had framed a draft for resolving problems of railway officials after holding consultations with the NFIR on February 23, 2006. However, working hours of running staff was not reduced even after two years.

Besides, abolition of posts in Railways was continuing leading to increase in work pressure and stress on employees. The Rail administration was doing this in order to encourage privatisation.

He said a warning rally, followed by a strike, would be taken out in April if the Railway Board does not take any action soon in this regard.

Mr Raghvaiya said 1,500 new trains had been started and new railway divisions had been created. However, the number of railway officials had not gone up. Under such circumstances 40,000 new posts would be created by the Railways.

He said the convention would discuss about report of the Sixth Pay Commission scheduled to come on March 31. Protest would be made if it did not favour railway employees.

Besides, demand would be kept before the Railway Ministry for resolving problems of railway officials of various categories.

UNI XC PS DS BST1325

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