Three months after 23 commuters died in a stampede at the Elphinstone Road station on Western Railway’s Mumbai suburban division, a citizen’s campaign is demanding a paradigm shift in the way Mumbai commutes to work, through extensive application of flexible working hours for office-goers. The campaign is backed by the India chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) after being initiated by a senior advertising professional in Mumbai who lost her executive assistant in the September 2017 stampede.
The campaign, WorkToLiveToWork, urges Mumbai-based companies to implement flexible office timings for employees. Nandini Dias, managing committee member of the IAA’s India chapter, says allowing employees to choose their office hours will eventually eradicate the concept of rush hour on the suburban railway.
“I have lost two of my closest people in deaths related to suburban railway accidents last year, including an office colleague. This has left an irreparable wound in my life. Therefore this project is really close to my heart — almost a life mission,” Dias said.
Launched last week, the campaign has reached out to 22 corporate houses so far. The suburban railway in Mumbai caters to 80 lakh commuters on an average daily. According to official records, the suburban railway daily records 9 to 10 deaths on average. Most deaths occur due to commuters falling off crowded local trains during rush hour or while crossing the tracks. The network remains most congested from 9 am to 11 am and between 5 pm and 7 pm.
“The campaign is pitching for all employees to get the simple right to choose their own opening hours between 8 am and 11 am and closing hours between 4 pm and 7 pm. This will ensure less crowd during peak hours and a hassle-free ride” Dias said.
“We have approached organisations, including the Confederation of Indian Industry, Indian Merchant Chamber and National Human Resource Development,” she said. Ramesh Narayan, president of the IAA India chapter, said, “While heads of offices are not against it they have done very little to actually roll it out and enable people. There is no data to say how many people actually are on flexi-timing.”
Last year, then Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu had asked consultant RITES to study the implementation of segregated office timings in Mumbai. The report had suggested that offices around the Bandra Kurla Complex must start implementing staggered office timings.