How Radical Leaders Like Venu P. Nair Catalyse the Reformation of Labour Union

February 19: “I am the General Secretary of the largest and the most trusted trade union in the Central Railway, the National Railway Mazdoor Union, which is a non-political trade union whose sole agenda is to organize and agitate for the welfare of the employees of the Central Railway. My organization’s motto is ”Sarva Dharma Samabhav ”, and we proudly endorse and practice this ideal in our organization. Being a central government employee, I am neutral in my political beliefs. As the leader of this noble organization, my interaction and association with people from all sections of society is the biggest highlight of my life. Working for my people and my cadre has brought clarity and strength to my character and career.”

The above observation is made by the charismatic leader and the General Secretary of the august organization, the National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU), the largest trade union in the Central Railway. Com. Venu .P. Nair is the undisputed leader of his trade union, and it is no secret that his inspired leadership has taken the union to great heights. He is well known for his simplicity and accessibility, unlike leaders who crave power and position,  Com. Venu  Nair’s sole agenda is the welfare of all the employees, permanent or contractual. He believes in social activism, and this is reflected in his organization’s involvement in various social and charitable initiatives. His magnetic personality and his relentless crusade for labour rights and social justice have endeared him to all sections of society. In conversation with us, he spoke of his experiences and his struggles, his passions, and his dreams of a society that delivers justice to its working class.

  1. 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week for adult workers.
  2. Parity of pay to permanent and contract workers for identical nature of the job.
  3. Work from 6 am to 7 pm for female workers, ensuring a conducive working environment and other basic facilities which could be relaxed to 9.30 pm upon explicit permission with all the safety measures taken for a transportation facility.
  4. Mandatory weekly holiday and maximum working hours fixed to 12 hours on any given day.
  5. The working hours for child workers are limited to 4.5 hours a day.

Ensuring these rights are recognized and implemented is the crux of  Com.  Nair’s concern. Motivating the employees and working to meet their needs and expectations are his responsibilities. He ensures that no discrimination of any kind is practised anywhere and women and youth are given their rightful place within the professional sphere: a  proficient        leader, Com. Nair successfully juggles his professional and social responsibilities to the utmost satisfaction of the members of his Union.

Com. Nair believes that a united workforce is essential to enforce labour rights in the real sense. A strong trade union is a platform that organizes and educates the working class. His immense faith in his own capabilities and that of his trade union is reflected in his utterances.  While discussing with us his life‟s work and beliefs, he said, “The working class and the farmers are pillars of our society. A truly just society cannot exist if these two classes are deprived of their dues. I strongly believe that the unity of the working class can bring about real changes in society. This is the awareness that I wish to create amongst my people. I hope my work inspires everyone around me to strive for a truly inclusive and egalitarian society and in procuring justice for the working class.”

John Quincy Adams said, „If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more and do more, you are a leader.” Com. Venu P Nair is a leader in the same mould. With his integrity and extraordinary determination to ensure the effective implementation of labour rights within the Central railways, he is a visionary leader in the field of trade unionism. May his tribe spread across colourfully in the canvas of trade unionism in the country.

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