Officers of 13 zones protest railway services merger
New Delhi: Civil Services officers from 13 railway zones and around 60 divisions have submitted written memorandums running into more than 250 pages against the merger of railway services, alleging the decision was "unilateral" and will negatively impact the safety of trains operations.
Big brown envelopes containing representations against the merger of eight services into the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) have been delivered to the desks of the railway board chairman, the railway minister, DoPT secretary, cabinet secretary and even the prime minister on Wednesday and Thursday.
The railways in a press release announcing the merger had stated that the reform was undertaken with "overwhelming support and consensus of railway officers, at a two-day conference 'Parivartan Sangoshthi' held on December 7 and 8, 2019."
However, the representations alleged that in the 'Parivartan Sanghoshti', 12 groups were formed, each headed by general managers (GMs) and the decision was taken "to suit the Engineering Service officers over their civil service counterparts".
The memorandums stated that there are around 2,500 civil services officers who will be affected by the merger.
"All general managers belonged to engineering services. The group members were taken from the respective zones of the GMs concerned. Only the GMs were allowed to speak. The dissenting views of the group members were not allowed by the respective GMs who happen to be controlling officers of the members. In reality, the personal views of the general managers were regarded as the views of the group," alleged a representation from the Ambala Division of the Northern Railway and the sentiment echoed in all the memorandums.
"If disagreements and differences of opinion was not allowed to be expressed, how could the consultation process be considered as democratic, as desired by the railway minister," it stated.
All the representations also highlighted how the move will compromise safety in train operations, stating that to avoid asset failures, expert specialization of that asset is essential.
"Human failure occur because of safety breach due to carelessness, lack of skill or training and lack of knowledge or awareness. To tackle all these issues a clear command and control structure with domain knowledge and clear functional affiliations is paramount... which will be impossible if various services are merged," the memorandums stated.
The officers in their memorandums also referred to the Bibek Debroy Committee report to drive home their point of having two services -- administrative/managerial and other technical -- instead of one for the national transporter.
They also spoke out against the railway ministry's claims that the merger will end departmentalism, claiming that the "so-called departmentalism" is virtually absent in the field at divisional and zonal levels.
"At a time when organizational restructuring is planned, non-representation of civil servants at GM's rank and at 'Parivartan Sangoshthi's' team leaders creates a sense of mistrust and disillusionment... the present form in which merger/unification is proposed, not only departmentalism will grow but organizational focus and its very purpose will be defeated," another memorandum