A day before the Indian farmers marked six months of their protest against the three pro-corporate farm laws introduced by the government by observing ‘Black Day‘, on May 25, the railway employees also protested against the railway authorities and the BJP led central government.
On Tuesday, Railway employees associated with Indian Railway Employee Federation organized nationwide protests against the government’s apathy towards the group and its policies to privatise the Indian Railways. The employees protested at railway stations, workshops, and production units with black flags, armbands, and placards. The railway employees also extended their support to the protest call given by the farmers.
Even when the country went under the nationwide complete lockdown, these employees were still working to carry out the transportation of things like oxygen, medicine, and other essential items.
Sarvajeet Singh, the General Secretary of the Punjab unit of IREF and RCF Employees Union, told Workers Unity that more than 2000 railway employees including booking clerks, TT, station manager, and truckman, etc. have died till now during the pandemic. The employees also raised the issue of vaccination and said that even though they have been working throughout the pandemic, the central government did not vaccinate them on a priority basis.
The employees also presented a list of their demands:
1. The government must recognize the railway employees as Corona Warriors.
2. All the railway employees must be given life insurance of lakhs.
3. An ex-gratia amount of 50 lakhs must be given to the families of the railway employees who died after March 2020.
4. NPS must be immediately suspended and replaced by the older pension scheme. Furthermore, the money kept with PFRDA should be returned to the employees.
5. All the unpaid money under dearness allowance must be paid at the earliest.
6. The upper limit of 43,600 on the compensation for the night duty must be removed.
7. The privatisation of the Indian Railway must be stopped.
8. The three farm laws and four labour codes must be revoked.
The National Secretary of AICCTU, Kamal Usri in his address to a protest gathering in Allahabad questioned the BJP ruled government. He pointed out that PM Narendra Modi has referred to railway employees as Corona Warriors on several occasions but the rhetoric has never translated into compensation or better facilities for the employees, the Workers Unity reported.