Agreement signed between the Railway Board and the two Federations(All India Railwaymen’s Federation and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen) on 22 nd November, 1979, states that..
“The Indian Railways are a departmental undertaking of the Government of India and as such, are excluded from the purview of Payment of Bonus Act. The Railwaymen have, however, been representing for a long time that being industrial employees they should be covered by the Payment of Bonus Act and paid bonus accordingly.
Discussions have been held since August 1979 with the representatives of the Railwaymen to see if any solution can be found to this problem since the railway employees are not covered by the Payment of Bonns Act, the Railways being a departmental undertaking. The chief consideration borne in the mind was the important role of the Railways as an infrastructural activity in the performance of the economy as a whole. Having regard to this, it was felt by the Government that any solution to the problem would have to stress higher productivity on the part of the railwaymen which in turn would result in better performance by the Railways. This line of thought suggested the desirability of , accepting the concept of productivity-linked bonus in lieu of bonus on the lines of Payment of Bonus Act. After discussion held in a very cordial manner, the representatives of All India Railwaymen’s Federation and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen responded in a spirit of coordination to the Government’s suggestion for accepting the concept of Productivity Linked Bonus.
Having regard to the above consideration, the Government have in consultation with the representatives of railwaymen evolved a scheme for payment of Productivity Linked Bonus to railwaymen. The Railwaymen represented by the All India Railwaymen’s Federation with their central office at 4, State Entry Road, New Delhi and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen with their central office at 166/1, ” Panchkuian Road, New Delhi (now at 3, Chelmsford Road, New Delhi)
This PLB Scheme was accepted by the two Federations (NFIR & AIRF) when Government of India represented by Railway Board have accepted this scheme. The scheme having been evolved by an agreement between the two recognised Federations and the Railway Board bilaterally, is reviewed periodically.
During the year 1995, the Federation insisted that the rate of PLB should be enhanced upward from Rs.1600/-. The Government have considered and revised the rate from Rs.1600 to Rs.2500 on 20-9-995 through an Ordinance.
The Minister for Railways is the final authority in this matter and no role is envisaged in the agreement either of the Finance Ministry or the Finance Minister. The unilateral intervention of the Finance Ministry causes anguish and resentment amongst the Railwaymen all over the country.
As the Government had imposed salary eligibility ceiling for payment of PLB, vital categories viz., Drivers, Station Masters, Guards, Section Controllers, Section Engineers, etc., were not covered by the norms. Thus they were denied payment of PL Bonus. These categories are directly related to freight and passenger movement and equally responsible to increase of productivity. Salary Eligibility ceiling had resulted in a discriminatory treatment, while one section of workers were paid bonus, the other section were denied the same.
The Federation took up the matter with the Railway Ministry and demanded that the discrimination should end and payment of bonus should be ensured to all group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees of Indian Railways. As the Government had not responded to the genuine demand, the Federation had taken a decision to launch agitation and accordingly mass Dharnas, Hunger Strike, Demonstrations were held by NFIR Unions during the period September, 1996 and as a follow up action in support of demand, the Federation rank and file had undertaken FAST on 2 nd October, 1996 – Mahatma Gandhi Birth Day – at all important places on Indian Railways. The Federation also warned the Railway Ministry that agitation would be intensified paralysing services if the bonus is not paid to all Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees irrespective of their salaries.
Sensing the grave situation developing on Indian Railways, the Cabinet met on 17 th October, 1996 and decided to remove salary eligibility ceiling paving the way for payment of PLB to all Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees. This is one of the historic achievements to the credit of NFIR.