The Railway Board has set a target of shedding more than 11,000 redundant posts in different zones of the railways in the financial year 2018-2019, a letter by the board to all general managers stated. As part of its annual exercise to shed excess baggage, the board reviews the strength of its workforce in its 17 zones in view of changes in technology, working system and redundancies.
This fiscal, 11,040 posts have been identified to be included in the ‘pool of surrendered posts’ – which have been vacant for long or those which have been rendered redundant due to technological advancement.
Last year, the number of such surrendered posts was around 10,000.
According to the letter, Northern Railway and Southern Railway have been asked to shed the highest number of posts – 1,500 each, followed by 1,100 posts in Eastern Railway and 1,000 post in Central Railway.
“Every year, targets are given to the zonal railways to identify surrendered posts after analysing the work involved. Some zones meet the targets, some do it partially and some don’t. But this exercise is essential as the posts included in the ‘Pool of Surrendered Posts’ are used to create safety category posts needed for new assets,” an official said.
The Indian Railways currently employs 1.34 million people and the wage bill constitutes nearly 50 per cent of its working expenses.
The Bibek Debroy committee on restructuring of the railways, which submitted its report in 2015, had recommended that the national transporter opt for staff rationalization — redeploying employees more efficiently or cutting down staff strength where necessary — for its long-term viability.
However, railway unions raised a protest claiming that it was not possible to surrender posts at a time when the number of trains being introduced is increasing manifold.
“We have conveyed to the Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani about our reservations with this move and we refuse to follow this Tughlaqi farman (autocratic decision). They keep issuing letters but hardly any posts are actually surrendered by the zones,” Shiv Gopal Mishra of All India Railwaymen’s Union said.