Railway employees launch campaign demanding ‘frontline worker’ status



NEW DELHI: The Railways’ largest employee union Monday launched a major campaign demanding they be declared frontline Covid workers as they have been serving people during the coronavirus crisis, losing more than 2,000 colleagues in the process.

They also initiated a social media campaign to press for their demands, running the Twitter hashtag #TreatRailwayEmployeesFrontlineWorker.

“Responding to a clarion call given by the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), railwaymen across the country demanded, through a Twitter Campaign, the status of ‘Frontline Workers’ for them, by tweeting to the prime minister, the railways and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” a statement from the All India Railwaymen’s Federation said.

AIRF General Secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra said there is “serious unrest and discontent” among railway employees on not being recognised as “frontline workers” even though they are “performing their duties day and night, and sacrificing their valuable lives”.

“While the government is extending all the benefits to the staff of other departments, treating them as ‘Frontline Workers’, Railwaymen are being given step-motherly treatment,” Mishra said.

He also said the agitation will be intensified if their demands are not met and the government does not extend to them the benefit of ‘frontline workers’ such as priority vaccination and Rs 50 lakh ex gratia in case of death due to the virus.

Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma had recently said that 1,952 railway employees succumbed to coronavirus by then, and around 1,000 cases were reported among them daily.

Last month, in a letter to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Mishra had said that around 1,500 railway staffers died during the pandemic while more than one lakh have been infected by the virus.

He also said that more than 65,000 have recovered and joined their duties again, adding while a letter of appreciation from the minister lauding their dedication was encouraging, a parity in compensation would be of great help for the affected families.

“We also appreciate the prime minister when during ‘Mann Ki Baat’ he called railwaymen as corona warriors.

AIRF, since the beginning has been demanding parity between different cadres who are working 24×7 during this corona period and scarifying their lives.

However, It is quite unfortunate that while other categories of front line workers viz medical staff, security forces, sanitation staff etc. are being paid Rs 50 lakh as compensation but Railwaymen are being paid Rs 25 lakh only.”

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