The top boss of the country’s largest employer, the Indian Railways, is unhappy over the way issues of 12-lakh rail employees are being addressed. Chairman and chief executive officer of the Railway Board, Suneet Sharma, has raised concerns and has written a letter to the general managers across the Railways on July 19. Most importantly, he spoke about giving special attention to handle issues pertaining to compassionate appointment in Covid death
More than 2,600 employees of Railways lost their lives while fighting the virus. According to the railway unions, the total number of Covid positive cases has crossed 1 lakh. Until mid-June, nearly 7 lakh railway employees were vaccinated.
In the letter titled ‘Monitoring of HR Practices on Indian Railways’, Sharma stated that in April he had raised concerns about transfers, selections, compassionate appointments among other things.
“As you may recall, I had highlighted certain areas of concern…There was an expectation that the Railways would have made progress in resolving these, in the 3 months that have elapsed since the last meeting. However, it was disheartening to note in our last meeting in July 2021 that not only had there been little progress, concerned officials were also largely unprepared in the meeting,” the letter stated, a copy of which is with FPJ.
“It needs to be re-emphasized here, that human resource in the Railways is a technically skilled and competent workforce. There is a need to devote time to developing this resource to meet the future challenges. Though some of the issues taken up appear routine, these contribute significantly to overall satisfaction levels in the organization, affecting employee morale, productivity and organizational efficiency,” the letter mentioned.
However, the railway unions claim that the compassionate appointments are being carried out properly. But the larger issue is the administration’s inability to provide vaccination to all employees after declaring them Frontline Workers (FLW). Till now, not all categories of rail employees are considered as FLWs.
“We have been asking the Railways to consider all employees as FLWs. However, many employees, especially in age group of 45 years and below, have to stand in regular queues,” said a union leader.
Other issues like mutual transfers and selections of rail staffs also holds true as unions claim that the administration does not transfer staffs who apply for the same despite vacancies being there. “There is at least 10% vacancies in each department. When staffs apply for transfer to other Zones and Divisions; the letter is not even processed,” said another senior railway trade union leader.