Members of Bhartiya Railway Loading Unloading Workers Union has called for a two-day protest on July 31 and August 1 against the Railway Board’s decision to rope in the e-commerce giant Amazon to transport its goods in two of the premium trains.
While many experts view this move in addition to the Modi government’s recent attempts to push the railways towards privatisation, the union also points towards the overlooking of the rules and regulations which, in this case, is to bring in Amazon without any tendering process.
In a letter dated July 5, issued by Freight Marketing Railway Board, an order was passed to give space to Amazon in two Rajdhani trains – Delhi-Mumbai and the Delhi-Sealdah – for a period of one month, which could be extended to three months depending on the feedback received.
According to the agreement, zonal railways will earmark a space of 2.5 tonnes in the parcel van of the trains for loading/unloading of Amazon India consignments and the remaining space of 1.5 tonnes will be for railways.
The union, in response, wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Railway Board on July 15 to register their serious discontent over the board’s decision.
“The move will take away thousands of people’s livelihood and will leave them unemployed… leaving no choice for us other than to perform demonstrations and to go on hunger strikes,” the letter added.
However, with no appropriate action being taken by the board, the union decided to stage a two day protest.
NewsClick spoke to some of the union members, according to whom, already three out of four parcel vans have been handed over to private contractors in Rajdhani trains.
Now with the big private company to operate, the move will only further the exploitation of the workers who already face hardships due to presence of private contractors for loading/unloading, union members added.
Speaking of workers’ exploitation, it is imperative to note Amazon’s not-so-inspiring history in treating workers like robots. Myriads of media reports from different parts of the world have surfaced in recent past that details the ‘horror stories’ of Amazon ware house workers who are kept under constant surveillance and at times were terminated for taking bathroom breaks.
Though, as per the agreement, Amazon will pay freight charges equivalent to the highest lease rate on the same train on pro-rate basis, the main objection of the railway unions is the bit by bit privatization of the cheapest mode of transport available today for the people.
NewsClick has earlier reported about the government’s decision to hand over the operations of Tejas Express to the private sector despite strong opposition from railway unions.
With inputs from PTI.