People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 10, 2008
NRMU TOPS ELECTIONS IN CENTRAL RAILWAY
P R Krishnan
THE 3-day secret ballot election conducted countrywide to the 16 zonal railways has convincingly proved that the National Railway Mazdoor Union is on the top and enjoys the confidence of overwhelming majority of the staff and workers of central railway. The elections to the Employees Cooperative Credit Societies on a number of occasions in the past had also proved these unchallenging positions. The credit for the victory scored in the recent elections deservingly goes to the dedicated and trustworthy leadership of this militant union. Functionaries, cadres and activists of this fighting organisation are naturally overwhelmed by the victory.
This victory has a glorious past of heroic struggles conduced under the banner of NRMU. The railway employees know this and are proud to recall them. Therefore it was not difficult for them to distinguish between the betrayers and upholders of the railway men's rights during the election campaigns. People have tested and tasted what role the rivals played during railway men's heroic strikes in 1960, 1968 and 1974. The campaign let loose by the defeated union leaders during that struggle period was all against the strike.
Whereas it was the leadership of NRMU which stood solidly behind the strike decisions and fought it till the last. It was the NRMU again, which continued agitations and campaign programmes for reinstatement of the dismissed workers during the strike period. It is because of this commitment to the cause of the working class that the workers and staff defeated the rivals and elected the NRMU with thumping majority. As a result, this militant organisation has proved to be the only representative union of central railway employees.
What is heartening to note is the fact that this is preceded by the big victory which the NRMU had proved in the election to the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. (KRCL) held in September last.
Following announcement of election results on December 3, the jubilant employees took out victory processions and held meetings and demonstrations throughout the central railways' main offices.
During the run up to the elections, one of the vicious propaganda unleashed and attributed against the NRMU was large-scale defection from its ranks. But the results proved that this was imaginary and those propagandists too stood rejected. Not only this but as time passed, NRMU's prospects went increasingly brightening. Another propaganda let loose by the INTUC affiliated unions was that the NRMU was having foreign links, as according to them Red Flag and Lal Salaams are not of Indian origin but borrowed from foreign ideology. And therefore they wanted Gandhian philosophy and Gandhian culture in the working class movement. And in that vilification and mudslinging campaign they could not realise the fact that their followers were deserting them and rallying behind the NRMU.
As a matter of fact none of these propagandist issues were the main issues for NRMU in the election. The issues posed and focused by NRMU were grievances and problem of railway men and the working class unity. The NRMU's worries were how to get the staff problems solved from the management and the government. The workers and staff therefore stood solidly unconcerned with such propaganda. They knew from experience that the NRMU is the only organisation capable to fight for their cause. Recent examples were many. A major gain in that series was the success scored by the NRMU in getting thousands of casual labourers regularised in service. The initiative taken by the NRMU to organise the contract workers under its banner was an eye opener. So also was its fight against privatisation and outsourcing the railway services. The demand raised by NRMU and the campaign organised to get bonus as per the revised sealing was another example before the workers.
It needs to be referred to and mentioned here that the NRMU is not confined to the activities of promoting the interests of the railway men alone. In its onward march, it has undertaken multifarious activities by rendering relief to the suffering people in various parts of the country. Be it an earthquake, flood, storm epidemic or any other natural calamity, it has been in the forefront to collect food grains, clothes, medicines and money to help the victims. It has also helped build hospitals and schools in the areas affected by calamities. Some such instances to quote are that it donated Rs 30 lakh for relief to the victims of the super cyclone of Orissa; donated tons of food articles for the victims of earth quake hit people of Latur in Maharashtra and built a hospital in that region; distributed food grains, utensils and clothes to the cyclone affected villages of Panvel in Maharashtra; donated Rs 30 lakhs for the earthquake victims of Gujarat and built a hospital in Bhuj for manufacturing artificial limbs; donated Rs 6 lakh for Kargil war victims; donated Rs 6 lakhs to the Tsunami affected fishermen community of Nagapattanam in Tamilnadu; donated Rs 5.5 lakhs for construction of a community hall in addition to providing an ambulance-cum-jeep for carrying children affected by malnutrition in Surat and other places; donated Rs 5 lakh to the prime ministers' relief fund; undertook digging up borewells for water supply to the poor village of Nandurbar in Maharashtra and donated cycles, medicines and sewing machines for the people of that district and donated Rs 48 lakh for the flood affected people of Mumbai in 2005.
It is significant to note that this is the first time in the history of Indian Railways that elections took place through secret ballot for deciding representatives charter of unions for recognition. This has been a demand of NRMU all along. This election is a big victory in itself because such a democratic process to ascertain the true representatives of workers is a landmark in more that 150 years of history of the Indian Railways.