BHUBANESWAR: In view of the rising train accidents across the country due to safety issues, the All India Railway Engineers Federation (AIREF) has urged the Ministry of Railways to stop outsourcing of safety-related works requiring specialisation and ban junior engineers/senior section engineers from trade union activities.
An apex body of around 60,000 railway engineers, the AIREF has appealed Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to put an end to the engagement of employees outsourced through various agencies for works like track maintenance, repairing of signalling systems and overhead equipment maintenance.
Flagging that the outsourced employees do not have any accountability which sometimes leads to serious consequences, the working president of the federation Bishnu Prasad Dash said such agencies are mostly profit-oriented, and employees without having any responsibility or liability often resort to shortcut methods.
He further stressed that clerical jobs may be outsourced but not operational and engineering jobs.
Railway engineers demand termination of outsourcing
“Railways should recruit more engineers to fill up the vacancies and get an adequate number of engineers on board to streamline the process and supplement over-stressed engineers instead of depending on outsourcing employees,” Dash pointed out.
The demand by railway engineers assumes significance as Indian Railways has already outsourced certain works including maintenance of new telecom-signal equipment by the companies concerned. What is alarming is that most of these firms have badly trained or fresh engineering graduates and low-paid technical staff with hardly any motivation to work.
AIREF further stressed emphasis on safety rather than punctuality and allocation of sufficient ‘blocks’ for the maintenance of assets without any pressure to avoid possible shortcut methods. According to the engineers, punctuality can be achieved at no cost if everything is put in place safely.
Apart from demanding the delegation of power to senior section engineers to handle day-to-day maintenance works smoothly, the federation suggested that technical qualification should be made mandatory for the recruitment of station managers to deal with the latest technologies.
“The junior engineers and senior section engineers should be banned from trade union activities. Though the railway board had issued a circular in this regard in 2017, it was withdrawn later. This should be implemented again,” Dash demanded.
Expressing gratitude towards Vaishnaw for standing guard at Bahanaga Bazar station after the tragic accident and ensuring that the tracks are restored within a record 51 hours, the federation urged him for immediate revision of the Indian Railways signal engineering manual for the betterment of the system.