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Southern Railways Disengages 202 Housekeeping Assistants; Hospital Hygiene Affected

Neelambaran A |
The workers' union has demanded the Southern Railways to regularise the workers since they were recruited as per the process for regular employees and has served for five years.
The workers' union has demanded the Southern Railways to regularise the workers since they were recruited as per the process for regular employees and has served for five years.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

The future of 202 housekeeping assistants (HKA) appointed by Southern Railways in 2018 on contract has turned uncertain following a negative verdict from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).

On the other hand, the Madras High Court has directed the Southern Railways to either appoint regular employees to the vacant posts or re-appoint the terminated workers in the Medical Department.

The Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU), which led the legal struggle for the workers, is demanding the Southern Railways to regularise the workers, since they were appointed as per the appointment process meant to recruit regular employees by the Railway Recruitment Cell (RRC). 

In another major embarrassment, the SR is unable to complete the recruitment of Hospital Assistants carried out by the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), since only the HKAs can be promoted to Hospital Assistants as per the rules of the organisation. Around 100 such Hospital Assistantss are awaiting the response of the Southern Railways.  

Several offices and hospitals under Southern Railways are badly affected by the lack of HKAs, leading to hygiene related issues, since the workers were debarred from service from December 19, 2023 after the order of the CAT. 

Despite working for the past five years in different departments of the Southern Railways, the 202 HKAs, including two women are left jobless now. Their positions remain vacant, partially due to the negligence of the Southern Railways and the RRB. Earlier, the DREU had strongly objected to the move to terminate the workers. 

Of the 202 workers disengaged, 140 are from Chennai, 29 from Trichy, 23 from Madurai, nine from Thiruvananthapuram and one from Palakkad railway divisions. The DREU has accused the administration of forcing  the assistant nursing officers and matrons in Perambur railway hospital in Chennai division to clean the premises in the absence of the HKAs. 

“The workers were selected after a series of tests including written, physical and medical examinations by the RRC, usually followed for appointing regular employees. In such a situation we are demanding the organisation to regularise them,” said Baby Shakeela, Vice President  of DREU, while speaking to NewsClick. 

The RRC is entrusted with the task of recruiting Group D employees for the railways. Despite the appeal for regularisation, the CAT has rejected the appeal, leading to the disengagement of the 202 workers. 

“In the meantime, the RRB has concluded the recruitment process for Hospital Assistants, which usually is not filled up directly, but through promotion of the HKAs. The railways is planning to recruit them in hospitals, which is stayed by the high court,” Shakeela said. 

The High Court has directed the Southern Railways either to recruit the same disengaged workers as HKAs if they intend to go forward with contract appointment and has asked the SR not to appoint the selected Hospital Assistants in hospitals. 

“A private firm has been roped in to appoint conservancy workers with a wage of Rs 12,000 in sections including personal branches. As per the directions of the court, the railways cannot appoint new contract HKAs to hospital section, leaving the hospitals under poor conditions. No hygiene is being maintained now, which is affecting the patients as well,” Shakeela said. 

The future of 105 people selected by the RRB remains uncertain, as do the 202 workers, including two women, who have lost their jobs as per the orders of the CAT. 

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