Close monitoring and surprise checks to check the practice of absenteeism, proxies and unauthorised leaves.
In India, government jobs are considered the safest because of the absence of strict rules and regulations for employees. Working in a government job means a relaxed working style, with no deadlines, less work hours, and so on.
In the Indian Railways too, the same work culture exists, or rather did, till now. Things will not be the same anymore. The Railway Board in Delhi has instructed the supervisors, who head railway departments, to issue certificates stating an employee’s presence at work. This will impact 14 lakh railway staff directly, as they can do anything but relax now.
The decision was taken considering the issues of dereliction of duty, absenteeism and proxy attendance by railway staff. There are employees who come to work in the morning, sign and leave after a couple of hours, either for personal work or for the affiliated rail unions. This results in shortage of staff required to ensure quality work in the production of rail tracks, coaches, cables and signalling systems.
A circular was issued by the Railway Board to all general managers across the Indian Railways to address the issue. It read, ‘All employees in control of staff should give a certificate that they do not have any employees on their rolls who do not physically exist’.
The circular also states that random surprise checks have to be conducted by the inspector of the personnel department and respective departments. The names of unauthorised absentees in each department and unit will be reviewed and listed.
The officers and supervisors, who approve the muster roll are also required to give a certificate that all the staff who are getting their salaries were physically present for duty during the period. The proxies marked will be checked by reviewing the attendance sheet regularly.
This decision is going to affect the railway union, as staff members cannot turn to the union now, as was the usual practice. Staff will now be monitored strictly, to check whether they are giving time to the union or the Railways.
Praveen Bajpai, general secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh, said: “The staff knows the responsibilities and jobs well. There is no need for anyone to monitor. Everyday railway men open ticket booking windows, loco pilots and guards run trains, gangmen maintain tracks and other employees do their work; without anyone from administration telling them. Rather the Railway administration should concentrate on filling up the over 2.5 lakh vacant posts, which are causing a burden on other rail employees.”
Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: “This circular has asked to take action against those who go on unauthorised leave of more than 21 days. It is not as if the staff members sign on the muster and leave. There is a lot of work and the administration isn’t filling up posts, which results in undue pressure”.