New Delhi: Railway porters, who will now onwards be known as sahayaks, on Thursday appreciated the government's decision of providing them new uniforms, but demanded more reforms, which they claimed the government failed to outline in the 2016-17 railway budget.
The porters stated that even if the the uniform and a new name will help them get more respect than before, their financial woes, which are the main issue, could have been addressed by fixing a minimal wage for their services.
"The new uniform and status will definitely earn us (coolies) respect. It is a good thing for all of us, but how does it solve our biggest problem which is the financial woes," Vinayak Singh, a porter for the last one decade at New Delhi Railway Station, told IANS.
"Since the inflation has been so much over the years that whatever money we earn does not suffice," said the 45-year-old.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, presenting his second budget speech, said: "Porters play a key role in making our journeys comfortable. We intend providing them with new uniforms and train them in soft skills in line with the evolving image of Indian Railway, adopting modern technology yet traditional in its ethos of treating passengers with respect. We will also explore methods of offering them group insurance facility. Henceforth, we will be happy to call them as sahayak."
He however did not mention anything about the financial aspect.
Another porter, Alyaas, a native of Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur, said: "We are not earning anything from this railway budget. The new status and a uniform is fine but what about our livelihood?"
Alyaas, who has been working at the Nizamuddin station since the last 13 years, also said: "Due to no fixed wage for us, we always have to end up urguing with the customers. They do not realise our hard work. The government every time misses out to address such issues in the railway budget."
However, Sitaram, a porter working at New Delhi Railway Station for the last five years, told IANS: "For the first time the government has talked about imparting training to the porters with soft skills which would help us learn little more and add to our earning. Still, the government is not certain what sort of training are they talking about."