The Railway Board has asked its zones to report staff members who participate in a three-day protest called next week by a workers' union against "privatisation" of the national transporter.
The board sent a letter to the zones on Friday, asking them to take "stringent steps to ensure discipline and smooth functioning" of the railways.
Workers of the Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareli have already held protest marches against "privatisation" of the railways. Top railway unions -- All India Railwaymen's Federation and National Federation of Indian Railwaymen -- have also threatened to launch protests if the proposal is not withdrawn.
The letter said the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) has called for a protest on July 15-17.
According to the letter, the staff members have threatened to go on strike over various other demands, including revision of the Kilometreage Allowance, parity in pension for running staff pensioners, implementation of safety committee recommendations, retention of Railways in service sector under the government, withdrawal of the New Pension System, besides the withdrawal of "100-day action plan for Railway privatisation".
"In view of the aforesaid, there should not be any room for complacency on the part of the railway administrations and all necessary stringent steps must be taken to ensure discipline and smooth functioning of rail movement," the letter said.
"It must be ensured that railway servants need to seek necessary permissions from the competent authority on their respective railways/production units to leave their headquarters," it said.
The Railway Board stated that "their (employees) particular attention should be drawn to relevant penal provisions" -- section 173, 174 and 175 of the Railways Act, 1989, which are attracted in cases of abandoning train without authority, obstructing running of train and endangering the safety of persons by disobeying rules etc.
"In case any railway servant participates in the aforementioned protests including 'hunger strike', 'chakka jam' etc, a report indicating the number of railway servants who took part in such protests should be conveyed to Board's office on the evening of 15th , 16th and 17th July, 2019," it said.
The railways' 100-day proposal to engage private parties in its seven production units has come under severe criticism from rail workers' unions as well as the Opposition in Parliament.
However, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal during a speech in Lok Sabha on Friday said there is "no question" of privatisation of the national transporter.