Women Rail Workers in NFIR (National Federation of Indian Railwaymen) play an Essential part in growth and rise of Modern Trade Union Movement. In the present times, there has been a Steady rise in the number of Working Women in Railways. Women Workers are no longer a ‘rare species’ in any of the spheres in Railways. But due to prolonged working hours and shift duties, women have less career progress in Railways as well as Transport Sectors.

Even though less in Number, Women Employees are doing their share of Work, under entirely novel conditions. The Wage-Earning Woman is always a Subject of priority and her attitude towards entering into Trade Unions always makes difference. But still women in working place have to confront with their male counterparts.

Parity between men and women in trade unions is still a long way off. Else, anyway this situation can be confronted by voluntary participation of women at gross root level.

NFIR’s Initiative: Drawing a picture of the trade union movement in terms of women's involvement is no easy task; General Secretary of NFIR Sri. M. Raghavaiah garu, through his untiring efforts enabled the Women Railway Workers to aspire higher positions in Trade Unions and a measure of respectability in the Railways. NFIR respected the Working Woman Interests and self-expression irrespective of their strength. This gave a hope and confidence among Women and thus started representation of their voice in all the affiliated Organizations of NFIR.

Care has been taken at the initial stages for increasing the Women membership, but still working women take little part in the work of Trade Union. NFIR is seeking to change the attitudes, to welcome more Rail Women and increase awareness for better participation in Trade Union activities. Ensuring that the Women Workers participation leads to Organizational Growth.

NFIR through its Collective bargaining and other consultative mechanisms, ( PNM/JCM ), even with representative forums has covered the women related issues right from the initial stages. The Main focus was made in the charter of demands of NFIR. Most of the Key issues highlighted were regarding implementation of industrial relations at plant level for women workers;

Implementation of Laws :

  • Maternity Benefit Act – 1961 (45 days leave for MTP)
  • Equal Remuneration Act –1976
  • Minimum Wages Act -1948
  • Payment of Gratuity Act – 1972
  • Payment of Bonus Act – 1965
  • The Factories Act - 1948

Better Working Conditions for Women at Work Place

  • Water and sanitation at workplace
  • Crèches for children of Working Mothers
  • Working Women Hostels
  • Lunch Room Facilities
  • Rest Room Facilities
  • Provision of Canteens

NFIR Recommendations - 6th PAY COMMISSION:

The demands raised by the Women Employees in Railways were referred and recommended by NFIR in the 6th Pay Commission, 2006. Now Women Employees are having the Fruits of the Success.

  • 1. Maternity Leave : Increased from 135 to 180 days.
  • 2. Child Care Leave : Two years of CCL for all Women Employees for Taking care of their children up to 18 yrs.
  • 3. Special Allowance : for child care for women with disabilities and Education Allowance for disabled children of Railway employees

Many Clarifications were referred by NFIR regarding CCL to Railway Board, and subsequently all the Clarifications of CCL are in favor of Women Workers till date.

Grant of Travelling Allowance On Transfer

References by NFIR to Railway Board:

  • 1. Supply of Quality Uniform to Female Staff.
  • 2. Recognition of Schools Run by Women Welfare Associations
  • 3. Provision of Rest Rooms in other stations for women working as front line staff.
  • Key Positions for Women in SCRE SANGH (AFFILIATED TO NFIR) :-

    SCRE Sangh affirmed the importance of women's access to and participation in Sangh Activities hence gave key position for a Woman in its Central Level Genral Body, i.e, position of Assistant General Secretary to Smt. Uma Nagendramani. Apart from that, Women in SCRE Sangh hold the positions as Central Office Bearers and Central Working Committee Members. These key positions offered to them paved way for active participation of Women in Regional Levels and take part in local level activities.

    Sri. D. Reddeppa garu, Divisional Secretary of Guntakal Division shouldered the responsibility of organizing a meeting on “International Women’s Day” on March 8th, 2011 at Guntakal Junction. The meeting was success as the women attendees attended in large number. Multipurpose Box was given as compliment for all the Women Workers who attended the meeting.

    Trade Union Activities of NFIR --- Women Workers

    • 1. Observing Special Calender Days pertaining to Women Importance: March 8th : International Women’s Day Dec 7th to 13th : Human Rights Week
    • 2. Trade Union Education and Training Programmes for Women at Work Places.
    • 3. Awareness programmes on HIV/AIDS
    • 4. Promoting Participation of Women Employees in Trade Union Activities.
    • 5. Inclusion of Women in Important Conversations.
    • 6. Encouraging Participation of Women Workers in Protests/Strikes.
    • 7. epresenting Women Employees to participate in Regional/National/International Conferences led by ITF and ILO .
    • 8. Representation in Decision making bodies. (AGS/SCRES - Smt. Uma Nagendramani garu)
    • 9. Conducting Workshops at Divisional Levels on Women Issues.

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Productivity Linked Bonu

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) and the 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. Salary Eligibility Ceiling 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.