One of the largest railway employees unions — the Congress-affiliated National Federation of Indian Railwaymen — has put its own government in a fix by announcing that its members would vote across India on January 17 and 18 to see if they need to proceed on a strike.
Stating that the Union government had completely failed in mitigating the problems of the railways’ employees and implement those issues which had been agreed upon as long ago as 2010, general secretary of the NFIR, M Raghavaiah, said they were left with no option but to strike.
“It has nothing to do with any political party. It is just that we can’t see any other way out. We realise a strike is going to make things extremely tough for the passengers who use the railways,” Raghavaiah said.
According to Raghavaiah, 19,000 trains would be stalled and more than 2.4 crore passengers would gett stranded every day. The loss, he estimated, would be around Rs2,500 crore daily.
Noting that the demands of the railwaymen were justified, Raghavaiah read out a few achievements to back his claims. He said, “We have been adjudged the best department for the year 2012-13, we ferried 1,010 million tonnes of freight this year, the highest ever, and we are giving back around Rs12 for every Rs100 we earn. Then why should we be treated this way?”
The strike ballot would see ballot centres at all the 7,000 stations across the 17 zones and six production units of the country. Around 13 lakh employees are expected to participate. “We are urging other unions to participate as well. We need to be united,” said Raghavaiah.