Employees say lack of transport forced them to skip work; Railways claims most are trying to take advantage of the lockdown

Over 800 Central Railway employees from the Mumbai Division haven’t been paid salaries for the month of May for not reporting to work during the lockdown, the workers’union has alleged. While the workers have cited difficulties in travelling, authorities say some are just trying to take advantage of the lockdown.

“I live in Badlapur. My building was sealed, and my entire area was barricaded after a few Covid-19 cases were reported. This is why I couldn’t go to office,” said a 48-year-old gangman who did not wish to be named.

According to the worker’s union, most of these employees live in extended suburbs and couldn’t go to work because of the unavailability of transport services. Several track maintenance staffers are also on the list.

RP Bhatnagar, Chairman, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS) told Mirror that in April too, most of them were only paid a provisional salary. “And they got absolutely nothing for last month,” charged Bhatnagar.

“The railway administration is able to run trains only because of the hard work of the employees. But they don’t care about their families. How are they supposed to run their house given the current situation?”

Demanding that the held payment be immediately released, the union has written a letter to the general manager of the Central Railway. It also states that these employees be granted casual leave for the period they were absent during the lockdown. The railway authorities, however, point towards a larger conspiracy.

A senior CR officer from the Mumbai Division said that some people are discouraging others from coming to work. “They are telling them that they will be paid even if they don’t go to work. This is discouraging even the well-meaning staff. If this continues, how will we run special trains like the Shramik Special, freight trains, etc?”, said the officer.

He added that due to shortage of staff, important work like pre-monsoon safety checks of tracks and other assets like over-head equipment and signalling systems have taken a hit. “When we analysed the list, we noticed that several people including those in this list live in the same area.

How is it that some managed to come to work while others didn’t?” pointed out another officer. When contacted, Shalabh Goel, DRM, CR’s Mumbai Division, said that the administration is looking into the matter and a decision will be taken according to norms.

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