The NFIR’s unstinted efforts before the Vth Central Pay Commission were very commendable and known to many. The whole cadre led by the General Secretary, NFIR, rose to the expectations of Railwaymen spread over 740 categories, minutely understanding the pinching issues of each category, prepared an exhaustive and detailed brief with a view to benefiting the Railwaymen.>
The major task fallen upon the new team of NFIR Office Bearers was “preparation for tendering evidence before the Vth Central Pay Commission”. The Federation leadership took initiative without loss of time in analysing the conditions prevailing in various categories of Railways and marathon internal discussions were held at New Delhi during the first half of December, 1995.
Responding to the invitation received from Vth CPC to tender oral evidence, the delegates of NFIR had appeared before Commission from 18 th to 22 nd December, 1995 and tendered oral evidence exhaustively covering the issues related to all the categories on Indian Railways. The General Secretary, NFIR made presentation in a very elaborate manner in respect of job content, duties and responsibilities besides adverse working conditions and unsatisfactory service conditions before the Commission. It was also pleaded that duties being performed by Railway employees were not comparable with any other Department or category and in view of uncommon, hazardous and strenuous nature of jobs undertaken by the Railwaymen and majority of them working at remote places with no minimum facilities for leading life, they deserve to be treated on a special footing and recommended better pay scales, allowances, etc.
The Leaders of JCM Constituent Organisations have undertaken indefinite Hunger Strike in front of Vth Central Pay Commision's Office at New Delhi from 8th July, 1996. On behalf of NFIR Sarvshri M. Raghaviah General Secretary, NFIR, Guman Singh, Joint General Secretary and R. P. Bhatnagar, Treasurer undertook indefinite "Fast". The Hunger Strike was called off on 13th July, 1996 as the Government conceded grant of 3rd instalment of Interim Relief to the Central Government Employees.
The Vth CPC had given its report on 30th January, 1997 to the Government. The said report had generated serious disappointment and resentment among the Central Government employees, particularly the Railwaymen, as many of the recommendations were retrograde. The pay fixation formula recommended by the Commission amounted to reduction of take-home-pay of the employee, while minimum of the lowest pay scale was also very low.
Staff side JCM took note of the serious situation developed in the country consequent upon the Government’s decision to implement the retrograde recommendations of the Pay Commission and demanded the Government to modify negative recommendations after dialogue with JCM constituent organisations. As the Government was adamant, a decision was taken to give call for “Indefinite General Strike” by the Central Government Employees. NFIR being a major constituent of the JCM took immediate action, convened the Working Committee meeting on 7 th August, 1997, wherein it was decided that NFIR Unions should serve Strike Notice on the respective General Managers on 4 th September, 1997 and launch Indefinite Strike from 24 th September, 1997 on important demands among many, revision of fixation formula, fixation of pension to senior citizens. All the NFIR Unions have served Strike Notice along with Charter of demands on General Managers of Zonal Railways on 19th September, 1997 while thousands of employees took out rallies in support of Strike Dicision.
The Government was wiser to invite the JCM leaders for talks on the demands and talks commenced on 6 th September, 1997 i.e., after serving the strike notices on the General Managers on 4 th September, 1997. On behalf of NFIR S/Shri Mahendra Pratap and M. Raghavaiah participated in the talks assisted by other NFIR Office Bearers. After continued marathon discussions between Group of Ministers and the JCM Staff Side Leaders from 6 th September to 11 th September, 1997, a negotiated settlement was reached for revising pay fixation formula i.e., 40% pay fixation for serving employees and similar pension fixation for retired employees, revision of annual increments of Group ‘D’ categories and revision of pay scale S-13 as Rs.7450-11500 and upward revision of minimum pay of Group ‘D’ employees. The negotiated settlement was a land mark event in the history of JCM and as well NFIR.
Several anomalies have cropped up consequent to implementation of pay scales recommended by Vth CPC. The Federation raised all such anomalies in the Departmental Anomalies Committee and as well in National Anomalies Committee. While the result of discussions was not satisfactory, in the case of following categories anomalies rectified and orders got issued by the Railway Ministry:-
Rates Inspectors/Coal Inspectors/Weigh Bridge Clerks; Midwife/Auxiliary Nurses-cum-Midwife; Statistical Inspectors; Typists; Movement Inspector of Traffic Department; Wireless Operators; and House Keepers on Oak Grove School, Jharipani.