About Umraomal Purohit

Com. Umraomal Purohit, doyen of the Indian Trade Union movement, was an undisputed leader of the working class and family of 1.4 million railway men for than six decades. Com. Umraomal Purohit was one of the front rank leaders of Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and served these organizations in various capacities during his lifetime.

Com. Umraomal Purohit was born on 1st March 1928, at Jodhpur, presently in the State of Rajasthan to Smt. Bholkidevi and Shri Manmal. Com. Purohit joined the Jodhpur State Railway in 1946 at the age of 18 and before that he was working as a Clerk in Criminal Court for a short duration. His desire to serve the working Class and downtrodden got involved him in a strike within 15 days of his service and was dismissed and later on reinstated. He was again dismissed in 1947 for the cause of protecting the interest of workers and reinstated in 1949.After independence, all the State Railways were merged with Indian Railways and different zones were formed .After the formation of western Railway in the year 1951, Com. Purohit got associated with Western Railways Employees’ Union (WREU) and was elected as Branch Secretary at the age 23. He was elected as Vice- President of WREU in the year 1953. Com. Purohit was elected as General Secretary of WREU in the year 1958. He served WREU as its General Secretary up to the year 2000 and since then he was its President with the trade union on Indian Railways .He continued on deputation from 1957 to 1986 till his retirement.

Com. Purohit contributed immensely in organizing WREU from grass root level, building up a dedicated cadre of youth and women, organizing Branches and Divisional set up and raising the status of WREU as one of the strongest affiliates of AIRF and HMS. Being a compassionate human being, he had a soft corner for lowest categories of railway men such as Gang men/Trackmen and it was because him that this category got innumerable benefit by way of service conditions, promotional prospectus and remuneration.
He was virulent opponent of the provisions of Rule14 (ii) of Railway Servants (Disciplinary & Appeal) Rules by virtue of Article 311(2)(G) of the Constitution of India, which empowers the Disciplinary Authority to arbitrarily remove or dismiss a railway employee from service. He fought many such cases and was successful in reinstating all the employees dismissed under Rule 14(ii) and the prominent one are those of 48 Loco Running Staff involved in LRSA illegal strike and all of them were reinstated with back wages and continuity of service by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Similarly, he got reinstated 3 Gang men of sawai Madhopur and 5 employees of Dahod Workshop dismissed under Rule 14(ii) through agitation and skillful negotiation with the administration. WREU under his leadership,  got all the railway employees shunted out during the 1974 strike, reinstated with full back wages by challenging the action of the administration in court of law, including the apex court.
His skillful negotiation with the Railway administration on railways men’s demands and staff grievances was praised by one and all, which not only improved membership and finances of the organization but also catapulted him to the highest post of the trade union in national and international levels, i.e. as Secretary (staff Side)   of joint Consultative Machinery (JCM), General Secretary of Hind Mazdoor Sabha, President of All India Railway men’s Federation (AIRF) and International Transport Workers Federation. His Leadership took WREU to a new height and WREU today is one of the strongest affiliates of AIRF and HMS of which WREU was the founder member. After Formation of New Zones in 2002, He became President of NWREU
Com. Purohit was elected as an Asst. General Secretary of AIRF in the year 1962 and as its working President in 1976. In 1980 in the Bikaner Convention of AIRF, Com. Purohit was elected as the President of AIRF (membership of more than 1 million) in which post he continued till his last breath .He played a very prominent role for success of the 1960 strike of Central Govt. Employees in which five comrades of WREU from Dahod namely, Comrades Ranjit, Sakharam, Khaderan, Sitaram and Kripashanker became martyrs while facing the bullets. He also led the historical 1974 strike of Railway men’s successfully .Com. Purohit, a strong follower of Shri jai Prakesh Narayanji, greatly contributed   in building – up and developing Railway men’s Federation .Railway men are benefited  in introduction of Transfer Allowance, Education Allowance, Group Insurance ,constitution of Railway Lab our Tribunal, Re – Classification of Artisan staff Cadre Restructuring , etc . He will be remembered as architect of Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB).The Railway men will ever remember his contributions in achieving Retired Railway Employees Liberalized Health Scheme level Negotiation For a. 1998 which has further enhanced prestige of the entire working class (RELHS), Introduction of Casual Leave to workshop employees, 12 National Holidays to 1.3 million open line staff not counting value of Privilege passes for the purpose of income tax etc. Due to his consistent efforts Safety Related Retirement Scheme (SRRS) was introduced and further modified and renamed as Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment to Safety Staff (LARSGESS) which employment to their wards. Due to the strict opposition by AIRF under his stewardship Indian Railways were saved from the clutches of privatization and scrapping of the retrograde recommendations of the Running Allowance Committee – 2002 from reducing the pay element of the running staff drastically. He was very instrumental in appointment of thousands of Act Apprentices as Substitute Group ‘D’ employees in Railways.
Since 1977, Com. Purohit was representing 4.5 million Central Government employees in the country as the Secretary of Joint Consultative Machinery (JCM) National Council till his last. Immediately after becoming the Secretary (Staff Side) JCM he could archive restoration of five installment of Dearness Allowance to Central Government employees, which was curtailed by 0.5% during Emergency period. His tireless efforts, matured leadership combined with skilful negotiations had resulted into several achievements for millions of Central Government Employees in the country .At the time of implementation of the 4th Central Pay Commission (CPC), he succeeded in getting minimum benefit of Rs. 100 in pay fixation. After 45 hours hard negotiation with nine group of ministers under the chairmanship of shri Madhu Dandavate, the then Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission as a Convener, many retrograde recommendations of the 5th CPC were rejected Assured Career Progression Scheme was introduced for the first time, Leave Encashment during retirement was increased from 240 to 300 and the pay fixation benefit was raised from 20% to 40 % , which was the highest in case of Central Government  employees. He also succeeded in improving the recommendations of the 6th CPC such as fitment formula (increased from 1.74% to 1.86%); rate of increment (increased from 2.5% to 3%): grant of Transport Allowance without surrendering of Residential Card Passes; Leave Encashment while in service; Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme; placement of Group ‘D’ employees in GP Rs. 1800 (by in house training irrespective of their educational qualifications) and all the Group ‘D’ employees got consequential benefits such  as payment of arrears ,seniority and retirement benefits with effect from 1.1.2006. He was instrumental in getting the service conditions and remuneration of the Railways employees and other Central Government employees improved considerably by effectively representing their cases before the successive Central Pay Commissions starting from 3rd Central Pay Commission various Committees/Tribunals, various Arbitral for a and also in joint Consultative  Machinery etc. On his insistence a separate delegation of women employees met 6th CPC such as child care leave , which was further improved later by DoP&T and railway board , increase of maternity leave to 180days .etc Due to constant persuasion of Com. Umraomalji, two additional seats were allocated exclusively for women employees in Railway Board and Zonal Level Negotiation For a.
In the year 1985, Com. Purohit was elected as the General Secretary of Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) .He played a very important role in building and strengthening HMS. During his tenure, HMS grew from strength to strength. He relinquished the post of HMS General Secretary in March 2012. However in his honour, HMS bestowed him the post of Chief Advisor .He played a vital role in increasing the membership of HMS by brining into its fold millions of works from both organized and unorganized sectors. He was a light house who guided trade union movement through the troubled times, strengthened and ensured a place for HMS in the annals of Indian trade union movement  through the troubled times, strengthened and ensured a place for HMS in the annals of Indian trade  movement and economic history. He was a man who believed in negotiating and dialogue to ensure peaceful resolution of disputes while never compromising in struggles against injustice. He strived throughout his life to improve the lives of works by making a difference at micro and macro policy levels and contributed constructively to meet development challenges facing our country. Progress and not necessarily perfection was his guiding motto. All his efforts and decisions were geared towards achieving constant progress and not necessarily perfection was his guiding motto. All his efforts and decisions were geared towards achieving constant progress towards achieving constant progress towards social justice for all workers. In these efforts he also strove relentlessly to promote trade union unity in the country. He was a firm believer in united voice and united action by trade unions in India for which he made many efforts. His contribution in brining all central Trade Union Organizations (CTUOs) and Industrial Federation on one common platform resulting in strengthening the trade union movement in the country was appreciated and praised profusely by trade union leaders in India.
He was closely associated with jai Prakesh Narayan V.V. Giri, Guru Swami, Maniben Kara, Achyutrao Patwardhan, Sane Gurujii, Peter Alwaris, and Jagdish Ajmera, V.B. Karnik, Madhu Dandavate, Surendra Mohan, Justice Tarkunde,A.C. Sen,Dr. G.G. Parikh , Dr. Shanti Patel ,Priya Gupta,S.R. Kulkarni,Manohar Kotwal ,Tulsi Boda ,T.C. Jain,Sanat Mehta, K.R. Prabhu Desai,K.A. Khan,F.M. Pinto ,Vasant Khanolkar ,S.M. Joshi,Bagaramji Tulpule,D.D. Vashisth ,Jyoti Basu,Mrinaltai Gore, George Fernandes,J.P. Chaubey,G.B. Sukhi,C.S. Menon and many others. He organized a grand meeting at Abu Road in respect of Shri V.V. Giri ji, who resigned from the post of Labour Minister in protest against Government of India’s reluctance to implement Bank Employees Award. For the last four decades, J.R. Bhosale, present General Secretary, WREU was very closely associated with him. During his activities, he came into contact with many Ministers and high ranking government officials.

Com. Purohit was very actively associated with the International Trade Union Movement. He was a member of Executive Board of the erstwhile ICFTU now International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC)

Which fights for democratic rights of worker developing collective leadership for restoration of human dignity freedom and peace. He was a great champion of ILO values and guiding force behind the Indian trade union’s current campaign for ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
For more than three decades, Com. Purohit was also associated with International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the biggest transport workers organization in the world consisting of Railways, Road, Port & Docks, Seafarers, Civil Aviation, Tourism and Fisheries having more than five million memberships from 151 countries. He worked in different capacities including as member of its Executive Board Management Committee and Chairperson of Railways and various Committees. He was Coordinator of ITF affiliates in Indian for many years. He was unanimously elected as the President of ITF in its Congress held at New Delhi on 5th November 1998 which has further enhanced the prestige of the entire working class of country especially railway men as he was an ex railway employee. He was first Asian and Non European President of the ITF and he continued in that posy for two consecutive terms. He represented workers in International Labour Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund for labour cause particularly opposing privatization all over the world. Due to his strenuous efforts, ITF started its regional office in New Delhi which was resulted in expansion of educational and other activities in the entire Asia Pacific region. While relinquishing the post of ITF President Ship in Durban Congress in the year 2006, ITF honoured him by presenting its Golden Badge for his outstanding contribution.
In his passing away, Indian trade union movement in general and Railway unions and HMS in particular, has lost a stalwart a visionary and an astute trade leader. He was a guide a mentor and a father figure for many trade union leaders. With his demise an era has come to an end in the Indian trade union movement. Com.  Umraomal Purohit ji will always be remembered as a great humanist democrat and committed trade union leader who always to bring everybody together in the common goal of strengthening trade union movement  so as to give effective voice representation and participation of workers in the decision making processes. He has devoted his entire life to protect and promote the interest of the downtrodden and working class. He has served the working class India whole – heartedly and selflessly till his last breath. His untiring and exemplary services to the cause of working class in Indian will always be an inspiration and guide to all of us in the trade union movement. Today    trade union movement in India is passing through a testing time and undoubtedly we all will miss him in our Endeavour’s. A real tribute to Com. Umraomal Purohit ji would be to carry forward his great legacy of trade union work with the same passion , commitment and zeal as he did throughout his life to safeguard the interest of workers and downtrodden..
(Compiled & Published by J.R. Bhosale, General Secretary, WREU)

Copyright 2014 Hind Mazdoor Sabha | All Rights Reserved. by Pointer Soft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.