Train movement across the country might be affected on May 31 if thousands of station masters carry out their plan to go on a day-long strike. Around 35,000 station masters across the country have threatened a one day strike on May 31.
However, the railway administration is hoping that the issue will be resolved amicably. "It's a national-level issue that will be resolved soon. Trains will keep running," said a railway official.
The All India Station Masters Association has been demanding fulfilment of their demands since October 2020. Speaking to FPJ zonal secretary of AISMA, Dharamveer Singh Arora, said a notice on the issue has already been given to the Railway Board chairman.
“The day-long mass-off is not an abrupt decision,” Arora said. “We have been communicating our demands through peaceful activities. We wore black badges for a week in October 2020 and discharged our duties, ensuring smooth operation of trains," Arora said, adding that the station masters had staged a day-long hunger strike on Oct. 31, 2020.
“When all the peaceful methods of grievance settlement have failed, we are compelled to take this extreme step,” added Arora.
Asked about the role of the station master in train operations, Arora said, "A station master plays an important role in the train operation at control cabins and in public dealing at stations for any train to depart and to stop or divert to accept on platforms. Be it local trains, Mail express or goods trains, unless station master gives the signals (line clear) train cannot be started. Similarly, at stations, supervision of public amenities, cleanliness, arrival and departure of trains, nominating platforms all such activities are performed by station masters."
"In the 1997 strike when all trains were stopped at all signals for just 2 minutes, it took almost 3-4 days to return to normalcy and the Mumbai Division was most affected, as all locals and mails express trains were held up," further added Arora.
"Station masters are going on leave for certain demands which include, restoration of night duty allowance which has been stopped from 29th September 2020, stop privatization, classify cadres with the change of designation, fill up vacant posts of station masters immediately, provide security and stress allowance to station masters, MACP benefit to be given from 01-01-2016, cancel new pension scheme and implement old pension schemes etc.," said a station master.