BENGALURU: Altogether, 281 railway employees in the South Western Railway (SWR) zone, including 83 from the Bengaluru Railway Division, are set to face the axe for “long-term absenteeism” from work. The Railways had recently announced that over 13,000 employees would be terminated following a direction from Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to take strong disciplinary action against those missing from work for long spells.
Bengaluru, Mysuru and Hubballi railway divisions come under the SWR zone. According to top railway sources, all the 83 staff fall under Level 1 and Level 2 (formerly referred to as Class D) categories. The maximum number in this list are from the Track Maintenance Department of the Engineering Division followed by the Commercial Division (which also issues counter tickets). The Bengaluru Division has a total of 10,497 employees on its payrolls.
Two women figure among those who will face the music. The personnel have not reported for duty for periods ranging between one year and four years. “They have all been chargesheeted by their respective departments. Chargesheeted here means being issued a notice individually and being asked to explain their absence,” a top source said. Most of those who have been asked to leave are in the younger age category. “Many keep applying for other exams after entering the Railways and leave without notice once they feel they have got a better job. We are facing attrition actually.”
A considerable number of employees are not able to handle the work pressure associated with the job and just leave, he added. He said that a field job like that of a Track Maintainer is physically taxing. “One needs to walk 8 km a day on railway tracks carrying 5 kg to 6 kg of weight however bad the weather is. And many of our staff need to do it in remote places, sometimes all alone,” the official said. In the case of staff at the Commercial Division particularly in the ticketing section, a ticket needs to be issued every 20 seconds owing to the huge queues in front of counters. There are graduates and even engineers performing demanding jobs. “Since we do not have an upper ceiling on education, anyone who has cleared Class X can apply. We have MBAs, BEs and even BAs working in Class C and D categories. They keep looking out for better opportunities after joining here,” the official said.
The pan India nature of the job could sometimes take one far from home town, the source said. “Say someone from Bihar is posted in a small town like Malur, the individual would constantly be trying to get back closer home due to cultural differences and loneliness,” a source said. Asked about the termination procedure, a top official said that there were numerous steps to be followed and the process could take six months. “After the chargesheet is issued, an Inquiry Officer would investigate into the issue. There has to be solid evidence against the individual to recommend action. A report needs to be submitted and a disciplinary authority (senior official) needs to take the final decision,” the official said.