The Railway Board has sent a letter to all railway organisations with advice on steps to be taken immediately in view of the proposed strike from 11 July
New Delhi: The Railway Board has warned employees of severe consequences, including fines, imprisonment and sacking, if they join an indefinite strike planned by government workers starting 11 July.
The Railway Board has written a letter to all the zonal manager and railway organizations on the steps that should be taken immediately in view of the proposed strike by central government employees, including railway servants.
Citing the Railway Servants Act, the board said “Rule 237 of the code stipulates that whole time of a railway servant is at disposal of the government, which pays him. Therefore, if any railway servant willingly flouts this condition of service, then the services are liable to be terminated after following the due procedure”.
It also states that according to the Act, if any railway employee entrusted with any responsibility connected with the running of train or rolling stock abandons duty, they are liable to be punished with imprisonment for up to two years or a fine or both.
It warned employees that the Railway Board under the Railway Services (Conduct Rules) 1966 believes in the principle of “no work, no pay” for the period of absence due to participation in a strike. Besides, the principle will also lead to “break in service”, effectively meaning that for pensions and other benefits, their past services would not be counted in accordance with instructions. The communication was circulated across all the railway offices on 1 July and was informed to the employees on Monday.
The employees were warned that since the statutory conciliation proceedings are going on with deputy chief labour commissioner, a strike would be treated as illegal.
A Railway Board official said on condition of anonymity that “this is a standard procedure which is followed where employees are warned of the consequences before they take a final call. We are quite hopeful that negotiations would sought out most of the issues.”
A section of the central government employees unions, including those in railways, roads, defence and income tax departments, have given a strike call on 11 July saying they were “disappointed” by the pay hike approved by the cabinet under the Seventh Pay Commission. These unions would announce their final decision on 7 July.
According to the National Joint Council of Action (NJCA), a confederation of government staff unions, as many as 3.3 million central government employees, including 1.3 million railway employees, are unhappy with the commission’s recommendations. There is strong resentment among lower-level central government staff as the government did not hike the minimum wage to Rs.26,000 a month as demanded by them against the commission’s suggestion of Rs.18,000.
Apart from it, railway employees have several other demands such as payment of productivity-linked bonus, revocation of the new pension scheme and implementation of the old pension scheme, a pension system like defence’s one rank, one pension and dependent parents of rail employees be sanctioned railway pass and medical facilities.
B.C. Sharma of the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) said, “The threat is not only given by railway board but also labour commissioner. However, even we have been following respective procedures as per the Essential Services Act. We had given a 30-day notice and enough platforms and time for government to negotiate. The government in no way can label this strike as illegal.”
Sharma said that the railway employees, along with other ministerial employees, have also received warning letters from the labour commissioner’s office.
“We (on behalf of government employee unions) have submitted our response to the labour commissioner’s office stating very clearly that as per the law, we were supposed to give a 30-day notice period and we have abided by it. Delays on their (government and railway ministry) behalf cannot be attributed to the government employees,” he said.