Railway cleaning employees threaten stir

You might find pests and rodents in long-distance trains originating from here in the next few days.

For, a row has erupted between the railway and a section of the staff here over spraying of pesticides during trains’ cleaning/sanitation process, and a boycott of the work is threatened.

It was as part of a new cost-cutting measure that the railways did away with contract agencies doing this job, and handed over the work to grade-4 staff from Monday last.

The employees protested, saying they would be exposed to the harmful pesticide ‘cypermethrinand,’ that’s used to disinfect trains.

They also complained they were not being provided with safety measures like protective gears or weekly medical check-up.

“The agency’s workers used to have protective gears and medical check-up. The railway staff too should be provided these.

Also they are left with primitive materials like broomsticks here, while high-pressure water jets are used in other divisions,” SRMU divisional president P Unnikrishnan said.

Around 60 workers based in Thiruvananthapuram and Nagercoil are entrusted with the rake sanitation jobs. Employees’ representatives said they will protest the use of the pesticide and shortage of staff.

Excessive exposure to the chemical can cause nausea, headache, muscle weakness, salivation, shortness of breath and seizures. Experts point out that such pesticides should be used by only licensed firms/ individuals.

A railway official said the authorities would look into the issue.“We’ll never exp-ose the workers to a harmful working atmosphere.”

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