The SSEs who head the signal and telecom operations on the busy route connecting the city to western TN, Kerala, Andhra and north India, were restrained at the office of Additional Divisional Signal and Telecom Engineer (ADSTE) by over 100 SRMU members who had also ‘forced’ the SSEs to sign a letter reporting that the ADSTE was missing.
The illegal detention surfaced after the SSEs had sent a joint statement titled ‘Life threat to signal supervisors at Arakonam section by SRMU” to the Principal Chief Signal-Telecom Engineer and Divisional Railway Manager on July 16. Around 2pm on July 12, SRMU member Prabakar Raju had asked them to come to ADSTE’s office for discussing staff grievance, the engineers had stated in the statement (copy available with DT Next).
The engineers, in their joint statement, had declared that they were made to sign the letter by force and hence it should not be treated as a complaint. Significantly, SR Officers Association (SROA) has issued a statement alleging that the union had sent men to the house of the ADSTE where the officer’s spouse and their infant daughter were staying alone besides repeatedly making calls to his residence. The ADSTE was on “foot plate inspection” on July 12 and he had informed the union then as well, the officer’s association has informed, demanding the immediate termination of service of the staff involved in the incident.
Ironically, RPF official on duty there had also seconded the missing complaint of the union apart from allowing the union to detain the officers for hours. The officer’s have also advised the management not to wilt under pressure and agree for any negotiation with union till the staff responsible were removed from service.
A railway officer requesting anonymity confirmed the incident and said, “Thankfully, no signal failure was reported during the four hours. What if there was one, which will require the interference of SSEs?”