Another concern expressed by Mudiya was that the Railways was not very sure about the level of labour provided by the service providers.
When it comes to manpower, the cleaning industry is prepared to set benchmarks. The age, education and the training undergone by each employee can be put forward for the Department approval.
“We believe in training people perfectly for the job. We can give the required number of people and assure they remain on site, unless there are any leave replacements. Proper training and audit can see that the staff deliver as per the requirements.”
Tewari informed that cleaning the railways is facing problems as it is not able to provide accommodation in the case of on-board housekeeping services. “So working conditions are tough. Service providers have also been cutting corners. Initially, the attendance is full. The cleaning staff does not stay throughout the journey. Consequently, the service is poor. South Central Railway has introduced a geo-tagged photo system to mark attendance.
The facility services companies felt that since there is lot of investment in the machines and organized labour, the minimum period for contract should be four years so that we are mentally ready to invest. The longer the contract period, the lesser will be the cost of the equipment. They also stated that to attract service providers into Railways cleaning, the contracts need to be SLA-based and not manpower based, “so that we know what we have to to deliver, irrespective of manpower.
Another challenge faced by the cleaning companies is the delay between submiitting the invoice aand realiising the amount.
At present, about 75 A1 and 300 plus A stations and suburban stations are yet to finalise performance parameters, qualifying criteria and work specifications.
The service providers were elated to have a direct interaction with the railway authorities and it was for the first time they “got to see the face of the officials”. Following the interaction, the Railway authorities have invited the service providers once again to Delhi to further understand the working model of outsourcing cleaning.