Sep 27, 2016

Incentives likely for high performing Railway staff

New Delhi: The Indian Railways is considering offering incentives to high performing employees as part of reforms aimed at overhauling the national transporter.
Officials privy to the matter told that the Railway Board, the apex body of the Indian Railways, is also considering a proposal to empower zonal general managers to provide advances, bonuses and incentives to exceptionally performing employees, especially in grade B category and below.

The proposal is being worked out on the lines of corporate salary structure and if cleared, it could prove immensely helpful in improving efficiency and motivation level of the workforce, a senior board official said.

Railways minister Suresh Prabhu has been talking about improving efficiency of employees through such measures.

At present, the railways offers Diwali bonus to its employees across the board, without factoring in their performance. The Indian Railways is the largest public sector employer in the country, with more than 1.3 million people on its staff and an annual salary bill of about Rs 41,000 crore, which is set to increase with the seventh pay commission awards.

The proposal is being considered at the level of the Railway Board chairman and the modalities of this award are yet to be worked out, the board official said.

“A need was felt to motivate our ground level staff. They are foot soldiers who ensure that the transporter remains on track. Employees involved in operations and maintenance who are responsible for safety of two crore passengers every day should get such perks for their work,” the official said.

Under the current system, no general manager or divisional railway manager can give an advance or incentive to employees, the official said. “We want to give authority to general managers so that they don’t have to seek permission from finance. The final authority should lie with the person who has the responsibility to deliver,” he said.

Reward Achievement

This is sound in principle. Equally important is to have a credible and rigorous mechanism to evaluate performance of railway employees. The competent young should rise fast, and deadwood removed, given that the railways need to drastically cut down staff and pension costs. An employee must also have the right to know how she has been rated and have faith in the fairness of the process. Beyond linking pay to performance, the railways should corporatize by reorganising itself from a government to a commercial enterprise.