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PARTICIPATION OF RAILWAY EMPLOYEES IN MANAGEMENT (PREM)

As a first step towards labour participation in the Management, the Railway Ministry had constituted Corporate Enterprise Group (CEG) of Management in the year 1972, which consisted leaders of NFIR and AIRF. Through this CEG, the labour organizations were given the opportunity to highlight their view points on the working and also suggest measures needed to be taken for improving the efficiency of the Railways.

The Corporate Enterprise Groups (CEG) at Railway Board, Zonal and Divisional levels was restructured during the year 1994 as Participation of Railway Employees in Management (PREM) to facili­tate meaningful and effective participation of workers in the management process. Further, to make the working of PREM more purpose­ful, a separate cell headed by a Joint Secretary has been set up under the direct control of Secretary, Railway Board. The Joint Secretary shall assist the Secretary in convening the meetings of the Group periodically and monitor the implementation of various deci­sions taken. He will also monitor the working of PREM at the Zonal and Divisional levels.

Shri C. K. Jaffer Sharief, then Minister for Railways had also addressed a letter on 24th June, 1995 to the then Prime Minister of India, Shri P.V. Narisimha Rao highlighting the decision taken by him for participation of Railway employees in PREM. This, he felt was a Government's commitment to usher in an era of participative management to involve workers in the decision making and the implementation process for a meaningful and collective endeavour. The salient points from his letter are given below:-

1. Following the assurance of P.M. to the August House, the Ministry of Railways have taken the initiative to involve workers in important deliberations at various levels so as to make them feel involved in the task of providing an efficient rail transport service.

2.    For the first time in the history of Indian Railways the top leaders of the two workers' Federations of Railways also participated in the meeting along with Minister for Rail­ways, the Railway Board and the General Managers on 1st May, 1995 i.e., the MAY DAY in New Delhi. Hitherto, there was no opportunity for the workers to contribute meaningfully to improve the running of the railways sys­tem and delivery of better services, except on matters like staff relating to duty hours, housing, redressal of griev­ances, service conditions etc., as the agenda for such meetings was very limited in scope besides being one sided. Thus an important beginning was made in the direction of involving employees in the management of Railways.

3.   The restructuring of Corporate Enterprise Groups as PREM groups expanding the scope of agenda to enable the workers express their views on issues pertaining to the day-to-day running of the system and enable them sug­gest means of improving the system, as spelt out in the Budget Speech of. 1994-95, has been well received by the workers.

4.   As per the announcement made in Rail Budget 1995-96, the workers' participation in management at apex level is a step further, for greater transparency in important matters of railway working. These enabled labour unions feel more of a partner in the march towards achieving Indian Railways' corporate objective of higher productivity with cost reduction.

The NFIR is with the Administration with regard to safety measures. The Federation stressed the need for educating the grass root level workers about the rules. It also has emphasized the necessity of publishing the rules in simplified form not only in English and Hindi, but also in regional languages. Thus, the rank and file of the lowest level can be kept well informed about the simplified rules and procedures of the system.
The NFIR also desires that the status of the members of PREM is well defined and clearly explained, not that they are enamored of status. Since, the Federation is functioning like a responsible co-partner in running the system, it also should be given due importance and dignified status.

At the apex level the meetings of PREM were held, by and large, regularly by the Railway Board. In the General Managers' Conferences and CPOs' Conferences, the General Secretary, NFIR has been participating and availing these for a in projecting important points. The highlights of discussions from these conferences are appraised to the affiliated unions and also published in the monthly journal "Indian Rail Worker". However, the meetings are not being held regularly on some Zonal Railways at GMs' and DRMs' level. The Federation has time and again brought this situation to the notice of Railway Board. Although necessary instructions for the purpose have been issued from time to time by the Railway Board to the Zonal Railways to hold these meetings regularly with the participation of General Secretary and Divisional Secretary, there has been no much improvement in the position.