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Privatisation of rlys' production units: Unrest brewing, warns workers union

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
Upset with the government's plan to corporatise railways' production units, the Indian Railways' largest workers' union has warned the ministry of an unrest brewing among the national transporter's workforce.
The Railway Ministry's first 100 days' plan under the new government envisages corporatisation of its seven production units and associated workshops under one entity called the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company.
The 100-day plan also said the ministry will soon consult various workers' unions on the issue and seek the Cabinet approval of the proposal within the first 100 days of the newly elected government.
"It is worth mentioning here that serious unrest is brewing among the employees working in production units of the Indian Railways, against the 100-day action plan of the Ministry of Railways...," said All India Railwaymen's Federation general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra in a letter to the Railway Board chairman.
"...it may result in a serious threat to the industrial harmony prevailing for nearly four decades over the Railway System," he added in his letter, also sent to the Board Member (Rolling Staff) under whom the production units and workshops function.
Indicating that the unions were not consulted during the preparation of the plan, Mishra suspected the "Government and the Railways have already taken the decision to corporatise the production units of the Indian Railways."

"In such an ambience, what the union representing the workers can state except that the workers will resist (the move) to the best of their ability and might," he said.
Mishra further said the railways was always envisaged to be a "public utility service", generating just the requisite profit as an organization to ensure that it does not have to depend upon tax payers' money.
"We are of the firm opinion that all the production units of the Railways, including the Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareli, function efficiently and can be proud of their workforce and the management," he said.
Listing MCF's achievements, he said against an installed capacity of 1,000 coaches per annum, the MCF manufactured 1,425 coaches during 2018-19, doubling its production from 711 coaches in 2017-18.
The MCF is slated to manufacture 2,158 coaches in the current financial year to support the railway passenger transport operations, he said.
"This amounts to tripling its production in just two years, a fact unheard of in any major industrial unit of the Indian Railways," he said.
On the cost front too, he said the MCF established a record by producing top-quality coaches at the lowest cost, he said, adding it manufactured 1,425 coaches in 2018-19 at an average cost of only Rs 2.06 crore per coach.
This is when the MCF has only 2,201 employees on the roll, he said.
Mishra, however, added that the workers were open to considering plans aimed at making these units both financially and functionally autonomous.
"Mere change in the form of the entity, we are convinced, will not bring about any performance related improvements," he said, adding the BSNL, which was a product of corporatisation of a highly profitable departmental entity, is a glaring example to consider.

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First Published: Jun 26 2019 | 7:55 PM IST

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