Railway unions back Trivedi's fare hikes
In a desperate bid to save the bleeding railways, employees’ unions are planning to hold rallies in the capital and across the country if the new railway minister rolls back the increase in passenger fares. Though the federations lauded the “bold” step taken by Dinesh Trivedi, they are comfortable with any politician in Rail Bhavan and possible rollback if the government provides a matching grant to the railways from the general exchequer. “We just want to save railways which is facing a huge financial crisis,” said Shiv Gopal Mishra, general secretary of All India Railwaymen’s Federation, the biggest association of railway employees. Though Mishra denied any proposal to go on strike, he hinted that they could launch protests if their demand was not met. After making two public appeals to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh since the fare hike was announced in the rail budget, the unions have sought time from him on Tuesday to press their demand. The associations, which are meeting on Tuesday to chart out their future strategy, are worried about the looming financial crisis. They claimed that many allowances to employees like travel allowance and medical reimbursement were delayed and overtime payments were restricted due to poor finances. The federations are also roping in customers’ associations like MST Association and freight operators’ bodies, arguing that revenue earned from the fare hike will help the ailing transporter provide efficient service with safety and security.