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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Com. B Samal, Divisional Secretary, Bhubaneswar addressed the 29th AIC at Thiruvanthapuram

 Dear Com. President, all the leaders on the dais and my beloved comrades.
On behalf of Bhubaneswar Division in particular and Odisha Circle in general, while I wish all round success of this AIC, I would like to express my sincere obligation before the Reception Committee as well as all the comrades of Kerala Circle for making such nice arrangements in every aspect. We the post office people really feel blessed while we take a diversion from the cramped accommodation of the post offices to such a spacious auditorium, from broken chairs to a cushion-based push back one, from gloomy and unhealthy atmosphere to a bright and healthy environment and from a compelling situation to struggle with the anti-working class policies of the Government to a nice platform for finding out every reply to all our issues and problems. Honestly, I do realize the so called “look and feel good” concept of Project Arrow not in the Post Offices but in this AIC venue.
Before proceeding ahead, first of all, I would personally like to thank the CHQ team for their nice thought, historic decision and timely effort  in  circulating the draft biennial report to the grass root level leaders seeking their involvement for additional suggestions,  corrections or amendments. Bhubaneswar Division has completed its responsibility to the extent possible in suggesting the CHQ in this regard. While going through the concluding part of the draft biennial report emphasizing upon unity for struggle and struggle for unity, I would like to recollect few lines from my  article titled “Understanding the Union”  written in the similar analogy “serve united and unite to serve” which has already been published in February – 2008 issue of Bhartiya Post and where I have tried to give a message to all the service union fraternity to simply understand the meaning of only two words and two concepts i.e. service and union  to maintain and honour the dignity of this big democratic setup. I have a very simple example for you all. To understand the whole concept of Srimad Bhagwat Gita, there is no need to digest all the  chants, but to understand its first and last word only.
So the first word is Dharma. What is the last word then ? - “
So the last word of the Gita is Mama. On combination, it comes to  Dharma  Mama” Comrades ! What is our Dharma then? To me, it is discharging one’s duties and responsibilities according to his capability with every sincerity and honesty which has been categorically emphasized in  the “KARMAYOG ” of the  holly Srimad Bhagwat Gita and many other holly books of different religions.
Concentrating my discussion to this service union only, I would like to say that our Dharma is nothing but to serve and to be united. So to have a clear understanding of the entire union activities, the very concepts of Service and Union are to be understood. We have to serve united and we have to be united to serve. Comrades, we are not politicians. Service is the motto of the union. Only two words and two aspects. The theory is very simple. Let’s not make it complicate and simply determine our duties and responsibilities at this critical juncture when India Post is moving ahead with rapid modernization and computerization with big corporate plan. For the purpose we have to strongly educate ourselves to find out what is actually there inside the corporate Plan, Strategic Plan, IT Modernization Tool and all such policies which the Department is implementing without any consultation with the Staff Side and try our best to provide sufficient feed back to strengthen our CHQ and NFPE to fight not only for the cause of the employees of India Post but for the whole working class. Then only we will have every reason to proudly say that we belong to NFPE which was serving the working class, which is continuing its effort in this regard and committed in every respect to continue with the same tempo in future.
Now, coming back to the issues and problems before us, I would like to represent that Bhubaneswar Division is quite habituated in disturbing its Circle Union, CHQ and NFPE in giving problems followed by constructive suggestions. A brief note containing some important suggestions will be handed over to the leadership sitting here for further disposal.
However, here are some important suggestions for the CHQ and NFPE to see and examine:
a.             If the restrictions of 15 elected office bearers can be eliminated to accommodate at least one representative from each Division in the Circle body and at least one representative from each Circle in the CHQ body.
b.             If we can  persuade the officials under Postmaster Cadre not to form separate association and others who are on the line for the benefit of NFPE.
c.             If  proper  hierarchical  control structure in P A cadre can be maintained.
d.             If the officials can be promoted to HSG-II and HSG-I from the date of attaining their eligibility in LSG and HSG-II cadre respectively without any relation to the date of joining due to delayed DPC as is being done under MACP Scheme.
e.             If parcel and letter bomb detectors can be supplied to all post offices.
f.              If we want promotion or financial up-gradation.
g.             If we need Postmaster Cadre, or LSG/HSG-II/HSG-I or MACP-1/II/III.
h.             If arm guards can be deployed in all HOs / GPOs
i.              If provision of Police escorts can be made mandatory in cash vans and during conveyance of cash for payment of MGNREGS etc.
                Hope this AIC will discuss and decide all the issues and find out ways and means for solution.
Lastly, I would like to thank the President for allowing me to share my views and you all for giving me a patient hearing.
Thank you all once again.
 Suggestions to CHQ at 29th AIC, Thiruvanthapuram
(from 10.03.2013 to 12.03.2013 )

1.        No further association on diversion from NFPE :

All might be aware that during last re-verification process, 33 associations in 12 different categories had applied for recognition out of which 20 associations have been given recognition under CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 including All India Association of Postal Supervisors (General Line). Now as witnessed, the System Administrators and officials opted for Postmaster Cadre are on the move of forming separate associations. The problems created by such proposed associations have been seriously witnessed during the recent strikes. If I am not misunderstood, concentrating my discussion to Odisha Circle, I have no hesitation to admit that most of the officials under Postmaster Grade - I did not participate in the last strikes considering themselves under a separate association. Honestly admitting, formation of separate associations on diversion of membership from AIPEU, Group-C is not a good sign at all. This AIC should discuss on the issue.

2.    Vacation of the restriction to elect 15 office bearers :

          It is noticed that due to the restrictions imposed by the Directorate vide its letter dated 05.01.1993, the number of elected office bearers has been restricted to 15 only for which many Divisions and Circles are not being accommodated in the Circle Union and CHQ  body respectively. I have experienced, even during unanimous selection of office bearers of the Circle Union, some Divisions are ignored however subject to fulfillment of other restrictions like quota etc. Similar is the situation in the CHQ where there is dearth of representations from all circles. As a result , many efficient leaders of the drop-out Divisions and Circles who possess the ability to contribute more and guide effectively  are also remaining out of the elected body both at the Circle Union and CHQ level. For the purpose, Bhubaneswar Division has already suggested before Guntur AIC to appraise the Directorate to abolish the limitation of 15 elected office bearers and amend our constitution accordingly so that we can accommodate at least one representative from each Division in the Circle body and at least one representative from each Circle in the CHQ body. Hope, this AIC will reconsider and resolve, if this proposal is found feasible.

3.    Promotion from the date of attaining eligibility:

           While issuing clarificatory orders on Postmaster Cadre, the Directorate at Para 10 of its letter No. 4-17/2008/SPB.II, dated 07.02.2011 has instructed   that no DPC will be convened till such time the revised Recruitment Rules for HSG-I are notified which is totally contradictory to the existing principles that holding of DPC meetings need not be delayed or postponed on the ground that Recruitment  Rules  for  a  post  are  being  reviewed / amended.  Secondly,  the existing  3  years of  qualifying service for promotion of LSG officials to HSG-II and HSG-II officials to HSG-I may be changed to 6 years and 5 years respectively as indicated in Para – 5  Directorate’s letter No. 4-17/2008/SPB.II, dated 07.02.2011. Thus there is a doubt whether the existing LSG and HSG-II who have already completed 3 years of regular service will be given justice or not. Thus, vide our Divisional Union letter dated 8th August, 2011, we have already suggested both to our CHQ and NFPE to appraise the Directorate that the proposed Recruitment Rules for HSG-I should have prospective effect after giving full justice to the existing HSG-II officials and Circle Heads should be instructed by the Directorate to ascertain the date of eligibility of such officials for promotion to   HSG-II and to promote them to HSG-I from the date of completion of three years. Similarly the LSG officials may be promoted to HSG-II from the date of completion of three years. The official should not suffer for the fault of the administration by not convening DPC meetings in time. Hope, this AIC will reconsider and resolve, if this proposal is found feasible.

4.      Maintenance of  proper  hierarchical  control structure :

Actually, the promotional avenues of the P As are yet to be understood. We have not yet decided whether we want promotion or financial upgradation or both. Though we are not satisfied with the Postmaster cadre created on par with LSG, HSG-II and HSG-I followed by a day dream of entering into PS Group-B. As per Para 2.2.11 of the report of the Sixth CPC, the Grade pay will determine the status of a post with a senior post being given higher grade pay. But this is not happening in case of the employees of India Post. After creation of Postmaster Cadre and with existing status of LSG/HSG-II/HSG-I, now a senior Postal Assistant conferred with 3rd  MACP with grade Pay Rs.4600/- is working under an LSG / HSG-II or Postmaster Grade – I / Grade – II official having Grade Pay with Rs.2800/- / Rs.4200/-? I feel it totally unconstitutional and a defective control structure with clear contradiction to the recommendations of sixth CPC. Since the proposal of cadre restructuring is yet to be finalized, perhaps this is the right time for this AIC to take a suitable decision to maintain the hierarchy.

5.    Supply of letter / parcel bomb detectors to all Post Offices :

            Another important issue which was brought to the notice of the Circle Union, CHQ and NFPE as well vide my Divisional Union letter dated 21st January, 2012 is regarding supply of letter and parcel bomb detectors to post offices. While we have not forgotten the unfortunate parcel bomb explosion in Suryanagar NDT SO, Bhubaneswar – 751 003 on January 3, 2002, the first of its kind in India Post  giving serious injuries to our counter P A throughout his body who could be able to save his life narrowly with a struggle of nearly three years continuously and lastly  losing his right palm and making non-functional his left leg below the knee, we witnessed another two such incidents after 10 years on 13th and 20th January, 2012 delivering letters containing detonators to the Chief Election Commissioner and the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Odisha , Bhubaneswar. This might be happening in other parts of the country to which we are not aware. Since the issue is not confined to Bhubaneswar Division only, we have suggested take necessary action at each level with every seriousness starting from Circle to Directorate to appraise the appropriate authority for immediate supply of letter and parcel bomb detectors to all post offices without delay to save the lives of the employees and protect the properties of India Post as well. It has also been suggested that bomb detectors may be installed in RMS points and sorting hubs throughout the country as done in air ports and railway stations.  On 17th July, 2012, Bhubaneswar Division has been replied that this issue will be taken in the next Departmental Council meeting. Hope, this AIC will reconsider and resolve, if this proposal is found feasible.

6.         Provision of Police Escort for conveyance of cash:

The cash vans especially in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela are conveying heavy cash beyond limits without police escort throwing unnecessary risks on the staff members. It is worth mentioning here that the police escorts provided earlier in both the cities have since been withdrawn. Though the circle administration is  quite  competent  and  the item has since been discussed in Circle office and Regional Office level, no tangible action has yet been taken. In addition, while cash is being conveyed from H O to rural SOs / BOs for payment of MGNREGS beneficiaries, no police escort is being provided  in spite of conveyance of lakhs of rupees. No other special arrangement has also been made by the concerned Divisional heads which throws an unnecessary risk  to all the staff members  starting from H O to B O  who are dealing with the same. It may kindly be noted that unfortunate activities by naxalites and Maoists may not be avoided if suitable provision is not made for conveyance of cash.

7.   Deployment of arm guards for safeguarding overnight stock of cash and valuables in all Head Post Offices:

Keeping in view the recent ongoing robberies in broad-day light  from banks and other cash counters in cities on one hand and considering the amount of  per day cash transactions  in H Os / GPOs, the administration should consider deployment of arm guards in the campus of and inside all HOs / GPOs.

8.         Making the SPMs / Postmasters free from achieving targets:

Since the jurisdiction of the SPMs / Postmasters is confined to the four walls of the Post Office on one hand and they have no scope to move outside leaving the office for mobilization during the working hours, fixation of unachievable targets for them under POSB Scheme and PLI / RPLI etc. seems to be quite inappropriate and unjust. Instead of pressurizing the SPMs/Postmasters who are already over burdened, the SAS/MPKBY/PLI/RPLI agents may be sensitized for the purpose.  

9.         Construction of  P O buildings / staff quarters/ local training centers / auditorium / examination hall on acquired lands.

In spite of acquirement of lands by the Department of Posts for construction of Departmental buildings for Post Offices / residential quarters, no action by the Postal Administration is being taken for years together. As a result, most of the Post offices are functioning in rented buildings as per availability in respective localities causing heavy loss in Govt. revenue in terms of house rent paid to private house owners. Hundreds of plots are left vacant in Odisha Circle. This might be the position in all other circles. Many plots are seen encroached by outsiders. Immediate construction of  post office buildings / staff quarters / local training centers / auditorium / examination hall on acquired lands may be considered to save loss of Govt. revenue / property.

10.       Dequarterization of Post Offices below schedule of accommodation:

Odisha Postal Circle  has many post offices having attached post quarters below the Schedule of Accommodation and completely in uninhabitable condition. The service unions are continuously  demanding for dequarterization of all such Post Offices. As per information available, there are several post attached quarters where the rent paid by the Govt. to the house owner is too less than the HRA not paid to the concerned employee which show how the Department is doing monopoly in earning profit out of the pay of the officials and compelling  the staff members to occupy the unsuitable post quarters bearing heavy financial losses which  is too illogical and needs to be addressed at any cost. It is worth mentioning here that all most all the post attached  quarters except a few those in the departmental buildings are below the schedule of accommodation and all are uninhabitable due to zero maintenance either by the house owner or by the Department 
Thus, all such Post Offices should be dequarterized immediately. 

11.       Supply of literatures / brochures / leaflets:

Though the Department is putting every pressure on the Postmasters / SPMs for achieving the targets in Revenue Realization , the Post Offices  are not supplied with sufficient literatures / brochures / leaf-lets etc .on P L I / RPLI, S B / S Cs , Speed Post and other premium products for wide circulation amongst the customers for effective motivation. While the Department is spending crores of rupees in computerization and modernization, no post office is being supplied with a leaflet on small savings  / PLI / RPLI and other products and services.
The  Sub Post Offices may be supplied with  sufficient brochures on all products and services offered by the Department of Posts for benefit of the members of public which will help the SPMs/Postmasters to motivate customers and to earn revenue for the Department.

12.       Proper training to staff members on basic knowledge in computer: 

It is a matter of happiness that the post office is now under transformation in the concept of look and feel good namely “Project Arrow”. While all most all the offices are going to be computerized, most of the staff members are witnessed not to posses even basic computer knowledge and there by delivering a very slow service at the counters. As we know, the WCTCs and PTCs of the Department are imparting various trainings to its staff members only on packages directly which are beneficial to it.  Computerization in India Post is a recent development. As such, the Department is having a large number of staff members who do not posses basic computer knowledge and thus fail to operate the packages properly effecting prompt service to the members of public.
Therefore, before imparting training on packages, the staff members should be trained on basic computer knowledge and then on packages. The training programme of the Department should be modified accordingly both to suit the need of the staff members and Department as well. 

13.       Fitting of glass panels in counters:

            While the counters of the indentified Post Offices in Phase – III and onwards under Project Arrow have been fitted with glass panels facilitating the customers to  come in queue , such Post Offices under Phase – I and II have been left open as a result of which    confrontations / arguments in between the counter assistants and members of public are quite regular in such post offices. In spite of several Visiting Remarks and Inspection Reports of the higher authorities, no progress has been made till date in Odisha Postal Circle.
            Therefore, the counters of all the indentified Post Offices in Phase – I and II  under Project Arrow need to be fitted with glass panels.

14.       Provision of A C and water coolers in all Project Arrow Post Offices:

Though the original concept of “Project Arrow” is based on look and feel good factor, most of the  Project Arrow Offices in Odisha Postal Circle have not been air conditioned. Due to scorching heat, the overhead water tanks fail to supply cold water now days. The water filters supplied to P Os are too small to supply sufficient water. As a result the offices where large number of customers are rushing fail to supply a glass of cold water to the members of public.
            As we have witnessed the idea of giving the post offices a corporate look has failed to be materialized.  The concept of Project Arrow needs to be followed in letter and spirit with provision of A C and water coolers in all project arrow and bigger post offices.

15.       Examining ground reality before computerization:

It is felt that without accessing  the ground reality, the administration is computerizing Post Offices whimsically. Most of the post offices are functioning in private rented houses having acute space problems and thus not at all suitable for computerization. Without any civil and electrical maintenance works computers are seen to be installed even without required furniture.
Thus, the administration should examine the ground reality before computerization.

Suggestions on Organizational Restructuring in India Posts

1.         Since the post of Chairman, Postal Services Board is presently held by the Secretary & DG (Posts), the Secretary is being over-burdened to look after the overall administration of the Department. On the principle of one man, one post, the D G(Posts) should be made free from holding the post of Chairman, PSB. Decentralization of power will strengthen the PSB to function efficiently. The post may be considered to be offered to any people’s representative, or to any retired officer with good record  of service  or in worst case to the Minister, Communication & IT.

2.         There should be one functionary as Chief General Manager (Technology) under Member (Technology) to look after this advancing field of the Department on which the future is largely dependent.

3.         There should be one post of Director ( Technology ) in each circle in the line of Director ( B D Cell & Marketing ). Such posts should be field in through Direct recruitment from open market having required qualification  preferably MBA / Marketing for B D Cell and M Tech. for Technology wing with at least 5 to 10 years experience in respective fields. The Asst. Directors who are presently working in BD Cells and Technology wings and do not possess requisite knowledge / qualification should be allowed to gain such qualification.  

4.         Organizations like Postal Stores Depot, Postal Printing Press, Civil and Electrical wings need to  be restructured  completely.

            a.         All the Divisional Heads should be given such financial and administrative powers to purchase, print, procure and supply all the required articles and stationeries for their respective Divisions.

            b.         The construction, maintenance and repairing works should be undertaken by each Divisional head for their respective Divisions under the direct control  and approval of the Circle Head. The Circles should have only Technical Supervisors i.e. one Asst. Engineer (Civil) and one Asst. Engineer ( Electrical ) assisted with  one  Junior Engineer ( one each for Civil and Electrical wing ) in each region who will only verify the proposals from technical grounds and recommend for submission by the Divisional heads to the Circle Head.

5.         All the posts of Heads of the Divisions should be upgraded to Class-I  with additional administrative and financial powers. There should not be any Class-II Division.

6.         All the postmasters of Head Post Offices should be given gazetted status. Alternatively all the HSG-I / Postmaster Grade - III posts should be declared gazetted with additional financial and administrative powers required to run the post offices smoothly. There should be no discrimination in the administrative and financial powers in between the Senior Postmasters, HSG-I postmasters and Postmasters Grade – III.

7.         There should be no non-delivery post Office. All the single handed  / double handed non-delivery post offices should be merged with the nearest delivery office and all the ‘A’ Class non-delivery post offices should be converted to delivery post offices  which should function under a Postmaster not below the rank of LSG / Postmaster Grade-I. 

( Bruhaspati Samal)

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