Rail union plans secret ballot in February on strike

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on January 18, 2016

The All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), which claims to represent the majority of the transporter’s 13 lakh employees, has threatened to go on “indefinite strike” if its demands, such as review of the national pension scheme (NPS) and filling up of the large number of vacancies among others were not heeded.

“We will conduct a secret ballot on February 11 and 12, to decide the date and future course of action (on strike),” AIRF General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra told reporters here on Monday, adding that if employees voted in favour of an indefinite strike, “we will go for it and accordingly a date would be announced.”

Mishra said about 2.5 lakh posts, including those of loco pilots, assistant station masters and track men, were lying vacant.

Meanwhile, in support of the demand of the joint committee of all Central government employees, Railway staff in all State capitals plan to sit on a three-day dharna from January 19-21 in protest against the “retrograde” recommendations of the 7{+t}{+h} pay panel and “non-resolution of long-pending” demands. The unions said they wanted the minimum wage to be increased from ₹18,000/month to ₹26,000/month.

On NPS, Mishra said it needed to be reviewed as there were many anomalies, adding that “we want the guaranteed pension scheme to be implemented.”

The NPS, applicable to Central government employees, barring defence and paramilitary forces, appointed on or after January 1, 2004, is a defined contribution scheme, not a defined-benefit scheme that existed for government employees before January 1, 2004.

The strike threat comes at a time when the Railways stare at an additional outgo of ₹32,000 crore, termed as an “unbearable burden” by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who has sought the Finance Ministry’s help to implement the 7{+t}{+h} pay panel recommendations.

Published on January 18, 2016
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