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High-powered committee to implement breaks for food, nature's call for train drivers

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, May 2 (PTI) The Centre has agreed to work out a solution to a long-standing demand of train drivers for definite time intervals to have food and respond to the nature's call.

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The Ministry of Labour has constituted a high-powered committee to work out the modalities "to provide defined time intervals for food and attending calls of the nature while on duty for the Loco Running Staff of the Indian Railway".

The initiative is in line with the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919, which has been ratified by India.

According to the office-bearers of various unions, the ILO's 1919 convention, for the first time, provided the right to have rest intervals during duty hours to workers and was implemented internationally. However, due to some reasons, the running staff of the Indian Railway remained deprived of it.

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The Indian Railway Loco Runningmen Organisation (IRLRO) first raised the issue in 2009 and since then, it has given several representations to various fora, including the National Human Rights Commission, the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation and the Parliamentary Committee on Labour.

"In 2018, for the first time, the Ministry of Labour decided to address the issue when it came to know that female loco pilots were the worst affected and having pitiable working conditions and finally, in 2024, the committee has been set up," Sanjay Pandhi, the working president of the IRLRO, said.

According to an office memorandum (OM) issued by the chief labour commissioner's office on April 18, the 13-member committee has the chief labour commissioner (central) as its chairman.

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Besides, five members from the Railway Board and one from the Ministry of Women and Child Development (nominated) represent the government while the six other members are from various labour unions.

Senior Assistant Loco Pilot Ashima Sachdeva, the only female member from the labour unions, said, "Women loco pilots have a tough time on duty as there are several women-related issues, such as the inability to change menstruation pads as there is no washroom in the engine and doing a heavy job after C-section deliveries. We will present our issues to the committee to get those addressed in a rightful manner." The first meeting of the committee was held on April 25 and was reported to be satisfactory.

According to the OM, the committee will work on the implementation of "defined time intervals for food and attending calls of the nature while on duty" for train drivers, along with suggestions to amend the Railways Act, 1989 and Railway Servants (Hours of Work and Period of Rest) Rules, 2005.

The committee will discuss and decide the modalities for the same "by taking on record the views and comments of all stakeholders, the railway administration, the IRLRO etc.". It will also examine the comments from the recognised federation on the issue.

"The committee will submit its report preferably within 12 months," one of the terms of reference of the panel said. PTI JP RC

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