Kerala govt seeks Centre's intervention over loco-pilot strike in Palakkad division

The Kerala government has sought the immediate intervention of the Centre in the ongoing agitation of the loco-running employees in Palakkad Division of the state and said ensuring the safety and efficiency of our railway system should be the top priority.
Loco-Pilot strike in Palakkad railway division
Loco-Pilot strike in Palakkad railway division

Thiruvananthapuram | The Kerala government has sought the immediate intervention of the Centre in the ongoing agitation of the loco-running employees in Palakkad Division of the state and said ensuring the safety and efficiency of our railway system should be the top priority.

A section of loco pilots under the banner of All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), has been striking since June 1 demanding 46 hours of rest, instead of the existing 30 hours.

State labour and general education minister V Sivankutty wrote a letter to Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav on Friday saying the "critical issue" should be addressed to restore normalcy by upholding the legal rights of the loco-running employees.

In the letter, Sivankutty pointed out that the agitation was in response to the Central Administrative Tribunal and Karnataka High Court rulings, which clearly state that denying daily rest along with weekly rest as per the Railway Act and Rules is 'illegal'.

Despite these judicial rulings, the authorities remain adamant in their refusal to grant the statutory rest to loco-running employees, even in situations where train traffic remains unaffected, he said.

"This rigid stance has led to unwarranted punishments and suspensions of employees, despite there being no disruption to train operations.

Such actions seem to be a deliberate attempt to justify the denial of rest, resulting in what can only be described as gross lawlessness and anti-people behaviour," the Kerala Minister said in the letter.

He further alleged that the current measures taken by railway officials not only disregard legal mandates but also compromise the safety and well-being of both employees and passengers.

"It is imperative that immediate steps are taken to resolve this issue by granting the legally mandated rest to loco-running employees and to withdraw the retaliatory actions taken against them," Sivankutty added in the letter.

The Palakkad Division of Southern Railway recently accused a few retired loco pilots of "instigating" a section of loco running staff to go on strike, and warned them of stern action.

The Railways had also claimed that loco pilots in Palakkad division clock only 80 per cent of the stipulated working hours compared to those in various depots of adjacent South Western and South Central railways or Chennai division of Southern Railway.

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