Will Have Alternative Mechanism To Protect Officers’ Promotion, Seniority: Piyush Goyal
Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday sought to allay fears among employees that the merger of railway services would cost them seniority and hinder their career progression, saying officers will have an equal opportunity to become a part of the Railway Board.
His statement comes in the wake of some officers raising concerns about losing seniority and facing hurdles in their career advancement after the government announced big structural reforms in the railways, merging its eight services.
"Officers will have an equal opportunity based on merit-cum-seniority to become a part of the Railway Board. Posts will not be fixed based on the officer's cadre," Goyal tweeted.
"We will have an alternate mechanism to ensure that the promotion and seniority of all 8,400 officers are protected," the minister added.
However, an aggressive social media campaign has been launched by officers, especially from the railways' civil services.
They voiced their concerns with the hashtag "No to Indian Railway Management Service", referring to the IRMS, the single services for all railways cadres approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
The heartburn has come from the structural division of the Indian Railway Service. While three services Indian Railway Traffic Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service and Indian Railway Personnel Service constitute the railway's civil services, the other five form the technical or engineering services.
"We truly love your zeal to reform Railways. It is in fact inspiring to say the least. But as they say, the devil is in the detail. Even if it is equal opportunity, officers entering through civil services will lose out due to late age of entry as the civils exam is tough," Chaitanya Pasupala, an officer of the Indian Railway Administrative Service, tweeted to the minister.
Officials at Rail Bhavan, however, said the move of the railway ministry was to ensure the end of "departmentalism" in the national transporter that often led to turf wars between officers of the different cadres "which was harming the railways".
"All officers would continue to work in their specialised services till modalities are worked out regarding cadre merger. We would ensure that not even a single officer is disadvantaged in their career progression," said Chairman Railway Board, VK Yadav, who also held a video conference with around 4,000 officers to assuage any fears and concerns they might have.
Yadav also said the railway will try to "pull up" the officers who are lagging behind instead of "pulling down" those who have moved ahead in their careers.
On micro-blogging site Twitter, officers also raised the issue of age, highlighting that while the average age of those who come through the civil service exam is 27-28, that of the engineering service officers is 23-24.
"The engineering service officers join right after engineering, so they are young. If they get to head departments now, they will have more time in service, and the civil services will lose out," said an officer.
Yadav said that candidates aspiring to get into the railways will have to appear for their UPSC prelims after which they will indicate their preference for IRMS under five specialities -- four of them engineering specialities for 'technical' operations comprising civil, mechanical, telecom and electrical, and one 'non-technical' speciality which will recruit officers for accounts, personnel and traffic.
"The exact details will be worked out. But the thinking is like this -- the aspirants take the prelim and then indicate their choices. They will be given an option to appear for IRMS also," Yadav said.
"We are going to send an indent specifying our recruitment for the five specialisations -- four for engineers, including that of stores (department) and another for non-engineering in which anyone can come from humanities side who will be utilised for manning the accounts, traffic and personnel service.
"All of them will be promoted at the same time," said Yadav, adding that 80 percent of officers were on board with the railways' decision to merge cadres.
Meanwhile, railways' largest union, the All India Railwaymen's Federation has also slammed the government over the merger of the services and warned that its "negative" impact will be felt not just by the railway officers but passengers as well.
"The AIRF which represents 90 percent of railway employees was not even consulted during this process," alleged Shiv Gopal Mishra, its chief.