New Delhi: The private vendor that IRCTC has hired to handle hospitality services aboard the Tejas Express, India’s first private train, has now raised the salaries of the train’s crew and has also given them a weekly-off.
Brandavan Food Products, a controversial Delhi-based company that had already stoked a row with a job advertisement that included caste as a selection criterion, has, however, not reinstated 20 employees that it had dismissed earlier. The firm had hired 40 crew members during Tejas’s big-ticket launch on 4 October.
The decision to hike salary and sanction a weekly-off comes on the back of a detailed report in ThePrint on 27 November, which highlighted a swirl of accusations surrounding the country’s first private train.
Crew members and attendants had then told ThePrint that salaries were being delayed, that they were being made to work 18-hour shifts while also enduring random sackings.
Blisters on the feet after a gruelling shift, said one, didn’t get him sick leave and he was fired instead. Another claimed that passengers were being served substandard food and unfiltered water.
“After publication of story, top officials from the firm and the management of the on-board services in Tejas came over to meet the current staff members and instructed us to keep our distance from the media,” said a serving crew member on the condition of anonymity.
“Some staff members shared our difficulties with them. After this, the company has granted an increment of 50 per cent in their salaries and also sanctioned a weekly-off.”
The crew member, however, added that those dismissed are yet to recalled. “The staff dismissed earlier are yet to be reappointed. This has increased the workload of current crew members,” the source said. “Earlier every coach in Tejas used to have two crew members but now there is only one.”
Sacked staff left to fend for themselves
Following the report, the IRCTC, a subsidiary of the Railways, had sent a notice to ThePrint claiming that 20 crew members weren’t dismissed but merely sent for re-training due to “inefficiency in their performance”.
The owner of the institute, the Lucknow-based Flyway, which provides training to the Tejas staff, has told ThePrint that he had no information about any such “re-training”.
The dismissed crew are also unaware of any such re-training. Avantika Singh, one of the staff members dismissed from the Tejas Express, told ThePrint that HR manager Pradeep Singh had claimed that when additional coaches are added to the current Tejas Express or any new Tejas Express comes into service, those sacked would be reinstated.
In their conversation with local newspapers too, the HR department has promised to take back the staff.
“But now he is not picking up the phone,” she said, adding that calls of other dismissed staff are also going unanswered. Due to all this, the dismissed staff are now planning to go to Delhi and meet Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.
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