Why are 9000 Delhi Metro Workers going on Strike on 30th June?
9000-odd non-executive staffs of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) have threatened to go on strike on 30th June- a move which would paralyze the operations of Delhi Metro across its five lines. These workers include train drivers, station operators and various others involved in operation and technical maintenance and hence have strategic role in the entire operations of the Delhi Metro. SI looks in the reasons which have pushed the metro workers to go for such an action.
The main demand of the workers is the salary revision and the payment of arrears. In fact, they have been struggling on this issue since 2015 itself. In the first protest which was held at the DMRC headquarters in 2015; Anil Kumar Mahto (secretary, staff council), Ravi Bhardwaj (Member, Staff Council) and Vinod (One of the maintenance staff) were charge-sheeted by the administration and Vinod was later terminated. Apart from this action was taken against 10 other employees, which affected their annual increments.
As things stand today, the DMRC is paying its executive employees on the slabs of a ‘Schedule A’ PSU, while for the non-executive employees it is paying as a ‘Schedule C’ company. The non-executive staff has been demanding parity and also that the salary slabs of non-executive employees be raised by a grade.
The basic pay of non-executive staff varies from Rs 8,000 to Rs 18,500, while that of an executive staff member is above Rs 20,600. The protestors are demanding that the slab of Rs 8,000 be done away with and the entry salary of non-executive employees be upgraded to Rs 10,170. Further, they demand that the last non-supervisor grade salary slab of Rs 10,170 should be increased to Rs 13,500; and the supervisor grade salary which now begins from Rs 13,500 should instead start from Rs 14,000.
The workers had gone for sit-in actions at various stations and called for a strike last year as well. However, at that point of time the DMRC had diluted the issue by saying that ‘the third pay commission has been accepted by the government and orders would be issued soon’. Things haven’t moved an inch even after a year having passed since these assurances from the administration. This has forced the workers to go for strike action. DMRC is again trying the usual tactics of conciliation-intimidation wherein on one hand it is claiming that the issue will be resolved through talks, while on the other hand, workers are being threatened of actions if they participate in the protests or the strike.
There are other issues too. Delhi Metro has introduced automation in various levels of its maintenance which has led to hundreds of staff losing their jobs. This includes increase in the number of Automated Fare Collector (AFC) gates at stations to a large scale shift from manual ticket vending to automated ticket vending. While these moves are being projected as moving Delhi Metro towards ‘state of art world-class operation standards; this has meant unemployment for hundreds.
Then comes the issue of the relationship between the non-executive staff and the CISF personnel who are responsible for security in the metro premises. In May the incident of clash between the two at Dwarka Sector-21 station was only the tip of the iceberg and it only showed the deep contradictions resulting of the fact that CISF personnel many a times are used for labour regimentation.
While on one hand DMRC has increased the metro fares to such an extent that the average monthly ridership has fallen by nearly 5 lakh (working class and the urban poor are the ones who have been forced to look for other modes of transport); it continues to ignore the long standing demands of salary revision and payment of arrears by its staff. Socialist India stands in solidarity with the fighting workers of Delhi Metro.