More than 200 stationmasters from Mumbai division, which includes both Central and Western railways, are in New Delhi to stage a protest against their pay scale under the sixth pay commission (SPC). More than 6,000 stationmasters from across the country are expected to take part in the demonstration, which began yesterday. Although this may not directly impact services, commuters fear that in case of untoward incidents, absence of stationmasters may impede the process of redressal.
The demands of stationmasters include upgrading salaries to a higher pay grade -- they feel the current pay- scale is not on par with their educational qualifications. According to sources, stationmasters receive Rs 2,800, which is normally paid to clerks and other grade IV employees under the SPC.
“We are demanding for a hike in our pay to Rs 4,200. This proposal is pending with the finance ministry for the last eight months, although the Railway Board and the Rail Ministry have already cleared it,” said M Jha, divisional secretary (Mumbai), All India Stationmasters Association. There are about 800 stationmasters in Mumbai division.
Railway authorities have said that the remaining 600 stationmasters are working almost double shifts to fill in for absentees. Since stationmasters oversee coordination, passenger complaints and technical issues among other tasks, their presence is essential for smooth functioning of services.
“Without the stationmasters’ approval, we cannot even divert a train from one platform to another at a station. Moreover, if there is any trespassing, accidents or some technical failure, the stationmaster is the first point of contact,” said a senior railway official.
Stationmasters are also responsible for maintaining a daily log of various incidents, and commuter problems.
The strike will certainly affect daily commuters, as railway accidents are common. There are hooligans in the train harassing women. There should be some authority that one can go to in order to file a complaint. Also, the daily affairs of the station might come to a standstill if the strike goes on for long.
-- Saba Shaikh, medical student
I don’t think it will affect daily commuters as long as trains are not running late. It also depends on how long the strike continues. If it goes on for long, commuters may face a host of problems. Besides daily local commuters, the strike will impact long-distance commuters as well.
-- JK Shah, commuter