Female Locopilots and Assistant Locopilots (ALPs) working in extremely demanding environments are battling strict rules against “light” work during pregnancy for safe delivery.
The railway employs 1,350 women as a total of 65,000 engineers and assistant engineers nationwide. “Female employees in other departments are given lighter work when it’s domestic so they don’t get tired during working hours. Because of that, we want the same thing: working longer hours in tougher conditions,” said an older female engineer.
The job is also challenging for male locopilots, given that they are confined to a small cabin on the locomotive from sign-in to sign-out. “Unlike coaches, locomotives have no toilets. It takes less than two minutes to listen to the call of nature. It’s going to be hell to stay on duty with express and mail,” said a male engineer who has been with the company for over 20 years.
The Assistant Local Pilot’s responsibility is to connect the engine to the train or goods rake. “An iron hook weighs about 18 to 20 kg and it takes all the nerves to lift it. said the engineer.
Climbing into locomotive cabins parked outside yards and platforms is a difficult task, even for men. “If you accidentally slip, you’ll land on hard gravel,” union leaders said.
In addition, the assistant locopilot must crawl under the wagon or coach chassis in the event of brake binding. It takes a lot of effort to physically rotate the cylinders in a squat position to get the wheels back on.
“Imagine, in the middle of a wooded area on a pitch black night, all kinds of venomous reptiles are often seen roaming even near railway yards. Then what kind of shock would a pregnant woman have? Will it affect her pregnancy?” asked another female pilot.
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“Forget about pregnant women. Working conditions for other female locopilots are also not very friendly. Officers/assistant engineers are unable to have privacy and change pads on board when working with male flight attendants.So let’s raise awareness of personal hygiene during the celebration of Women’s Day. What is it used for?” asked one of the female pilots.
Like many men, female autopilots avoid drinking enough water during working hours for fear of all these inconveniences.
The increase in night shifts is putting a strain on women’s reproductive organs. “We all chose this job to earn a living. I’m not,” lamented another female pilot.
The women also complain that railroad officials often pressure railroad doctors to deny medical leave to employees who run the daily shows.
A railway union leader in Madurai had to contend with authorities to get medical leave for a female locomotive driver who had a miscarriage, union leaders said.
“We don’t want the union to fight with the officials on our behalf. All we want is for the railway commission to formulate rules that give light work during pregnancy. This is , just a few months in the entire career of a female engineer, or we should be allowed to run out of leave or go unpaid,” said the young female assistant pilot. rice field. Locopilots and assistant locopilots would like to be allowed to take time off during their menstrual cycle.
Against the backdrop of a shortage of engineers and co-pilots, female engineers and co-pilots are making these demands.
“There is only 120% against the rule of maintaining the strength of engineers at 130% so that they can participate in training programs and take weekly leave. We are not in a position where there are no women, but the number of women is very small,” said the union leader.
Shiva Gopal Mishra, general secretary of the All India Railways Federation, said under the prevailing terms of service, locomotive drivers cannot be given light jobs. India is one of the few countries that allows a woman her two years of parental leave and her six months of maternity leave.
“Female locopilots can take time off whenever they decide they are physically unable to work, such as during pregnancy or menstruation,” he said.
He disapproved of the practice of denying medical leave to railway doctors at the insistence of senior officials. “Railway employees deserve to take time off. If employees face such difficulties, union leaders should step in and restore their rights,” he added.
He said he would take up the issue of refusal of leave with the chairman of the railroad commission. He also undertook the demand for lighter jobs during pregnancy at the Joint Advisory Board for Central Government Officials.
“Harming a female loco-pilot/assistant loco-pilot during her menstrual cycle is a grave violation of human rights. Especially pregnant women should not be allowed to be at the mercy of officials,” said Madurai MP Sue Venkatesan. Said.
Locopilot/ALP women are very few and you can’t hear them, but in reality there are some problems. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said he would highlight the issue in parliament, saying officials needed to be sensitive to the whole issue.