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Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 New Year’s Pledge Urges United Struggle

 Secretary, AIPEU, Gr.-C

The clock is advancing relentlessly with its tick-tock music as a new year starts and old one ends reminding us the same customary attitude to contemplate all our agonies and ecstasies reviewing our resolutions made in the beginning of the year and  looking back on months gone by. While it’s no wonder to recall all the  happy times that enriched our lives, realize the fondest dreams which made us recognized, memorize the best rewards  of our deepest and finest feelings and great satisfactions, refresh and revitalize the pleasures with people, material and personal successes on one hand, it becomes, on the other  also inevitable to weigh our ignorance / mistakes to find out the hurdles for unachieved goals, to examine the reasons for failures and to establish the deviations from our promises and commitments so that we can greet the New Year with  a stronger attitude and a better commitment than ever.  

In this context, it is a proud moment for all of us to recollect the glorious journey of the Department of Posts from traditional to digital along with the historic Postal/Central Govt. employees Trade Union Movement through National Federation of Post & Telecom Employees (NFPTE) alias National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) which enters the 62nd year of its existence. During our long strenuous journey, we have not only experienced the Divide and Rule Policy of the British Government but also the administrative dilemma and miseries of Postal workers in particular and Central Govt. employees in general even during post-independent era without minimum wage, holidays, fixed duty hours, recreation, promotion, bonus, advances, overtime allowance, retirement benefits etc., They were badly treated, severally punished and personally abused. Corruption was rampant. The service of the employees was hopelessly insecure.

The P & T Trade Union Movement  which was initiated in the name of a Postal Club in Kolkatta GPO under the able leadership and guidance of Babu Tarapad Mukherjee during 1905 became recognized as National Federation of Post and Telegraph Employees (NFPTE)  on 24th November, 1954 after 50 years of uncompromised struggles and sacrifices. Com. B N Ghosh, popularly known as Dada Ghosh became the founder Secretary General of NFPTE. Till it was bifurcated in February, 1986 to National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) and National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE) consequent upon separation of the Department to Department of Posts and Department of Telecommunications, NFPTE continued its struggle  to give its members the benefits they deserve in spite of formation of Federation of National Postal Organizations (FNPO) in 1968 and Bhartiya Post and Telegraph Employees Federation (BPTEF) in 1977 by the ruling party to weaken the movements reiterating the so called Divide and Rule Policy of the British Govt. In spite of hurdles and attacks by the Govt., NFPE has never looked back and is continuing its struggles as the biggest constituent of Confederation of Central Govt. employees and Workers not only to protect the interest of the postal and RMS employees in particular but also to give justice to the entire working class in general.

It is needless to reiterate that the benefits now we are enjoining as Central Govt. Employees are the gifts of the sacrifices of the leaders and loyal workers of NFPTE / Confederation without caring for brutal murders, mass scale arrests, termination, suspension and above all de-recognition of our Federation by the administration / Govt. The story of success and sacrifice of NFPTE/Confederation is too long to describe.

NFPE’s struggle movements in particular are not just confined to pay or leave etc. In the name of transformation of India Post, the problems of the postal employees have been multiplied during the last two decades. With formulation of National Postal Policy, Strategic Plan, Corporate Plan and introduction of Project Arrow and I T Modernization Project, the employees are now treated in similar nature prevailed during pre-independence era. With acute shortage of staff due to arbitrary abolition of posts, increased working hours due to down-sizing, additional pressure due unachievable targets for POSB, PLI/RPLI and business products, frequent system problems due to improper software, inadequate professionals and outdated accessories, compulsion of cent percent delivery in the absence of adequate staff and support system, introduction of new products and services without proper education and training to the employees and such other problems arising out of computerization and modernization, the employees are suffering like anything. In addition, corporatization/privatization of India Post through implementation of Task Force report is still a peril like the sword of Damocles. Over Time duty has already lost its concept due to non-revision of the allowance for more than two decades. Contradictorily, the promotional avenues in postal department have been twisted to be confused. The cadre restructuring proposal has been unnecessarily delayed for last five years. The fates of 3 lakh Gramin Dak Sewaks have remained unpredictable for decades together. Thus, we are still demanding to fill up all vacant posts, creation of new posts, to stop corporatization / privatization / down-sizing, to give five promotions, to give status and pension to GDS etc. The struggles have not yet ended.

In addition, due to rapid migration of Post Office to CBS Finacle and PLI McCamish in the absence of proper infrastructure, the sufferings of the employees of Department of Posts beggar description during 2015. The nature of fixed duty hours has now lost its concept. The employees are receiving irregular orders always not to leave office without permission of the CPC/CEPT. Till now we have 12109 CBS post offices all over India which includes 804 HOs and 11305 SOs. Odisha Circle got its first CBS post Office on 01.12.2014 in the name of Bhubaneswar GPO and during 2015 Odisha Circle has migrated all its 35 HOs and 347 SOs as on date. In Bhubaneswar Division, we have 32 CBS Post Offices including Bhubaneswar GPO as on date. Similarly, during 2015, PLI McCamish roll out has been completed in 21 HOs of Odisha Circle including Bhubaneswar GPO which was rolled out as first HO on 07.09.2015. The employees are regularly struggling for smooth connectivity, proper hardware and adequate manpower to render proper services to the customers. But all their efforts have fallen to the deaf ears of the administration. Responsibility is seen to be  shifted from Department to Infosys, from Infosys to Sify or sometimes from both to the Central Server / Data Centre etc. Due to no fault of the officials, they are falling prey to the anger of the dissatisfied customers.

Above all, 2015 remained a year of suffering for the postal employees in particular.

Adding salt to injury, the 7th CPC submitted its report with most disappointing, retrograde and worst ever recommendations to the Govt. on 19th November, 2015 restricting the pay hike to 14.29% without any change in the annual increment and promotional avenues even after a gap of 10 years and more importantly withdrawing all the 12 interest-free advances and 52 allowances and thus deceiving as many as 47 lakh Central Govt. employees and 52 lakh pensioners. The demands of the JCM Staff Side to implement the recommendations from 01.01.2014, to fix the minimum wage at Rs.26000/- with multiplying factor of 3.27, annual increment to 5%, 5 promotion during the entire service career, abolition of Grade Pay etc have been squarely rejected by the Commission. No change has been recommended for Casual Leave, Maternity Leave and Leave encashment. Rather, the Commission has recommended to reduce the HRA from 30/20/10% to 24/16/8% and 20% less pay in the 2nd year of Child Care Leave. Relating to our specific issues, the commission finds no justification for enhancement of minimum educational qualifications for Direct Recruits for Postal Assistants/Sorting Assistants from Class XII to Graduation and the entry grade pay from GP 2400 to GP 2800 and also no justification for upgrading LSG, HSG-II & HSG-I. Similar is the case of Postman, Mail Guard and MTS. The demand for separate cadre for S As / B Es has been denied straightway. The issues relating to GDS remained untouched.

In protest against such retrograde measures of 7th CPC, we have already hold protest demonstrations throughout the country and JCM Staff Side has already submitted a notice to the Cabinet Secretary with suggested modifications. If our demands are not settled amicably through proper negotiation, the National Joint Council of Action comprising Confederation, Railway and Defence Federation has already decided to go for nationwide indefinite strike from 1st week of March, 2016. The processing of Strike Ballot among the constituents of the NJCA will soon be on move so as to complete by end of January, 2016.

Thus, the revolution has just begun which needs the effort of every single individual for retaining the hard-earned benefits we have achieved through our struggle movements. Human revolution, in just a single individual can help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further in the destiny of all human kind. So unfettered by narrow nationalist or sectarian concerns, it should be considered that every individual is equally empowered with inner brilliance of life and however small the effort, every individual effort certainly makes a definite difference. The thing is that everyone should be loyal to the voice of conscience that issues forth from deep within. When one is affected by wrath, his mind will not be correct, when one is affected by fear, his mind will not be correct, when one is affected by fondness, his mind will not be correct or when one is affected by worries and anxieties to any extent, his mind will not be correct. When the mind is not present, we look but we do not see, listen but we do not hear and eat but do not know the taste of the food. As a result, we fail to serve whole-heartedly. No progress is possible unless we have a mind free from anxiety and sufficient leisure for the development of our higher nature.

Workers are not beggars. So, to make ourselves free from all worries and anxieties, to live with a status and to serve our nation whole heartedly on one hand and to retain the hard-earned benefits already achieved through rigorous struggles and sacrifices on the other, we have to go for united struggle only under one umbrella which needs just a promise by every individual on the eve of this new year. To be more active and more progressive, let’s promise to be more militant and aggressive on our issues.

Together we can move the world. One, who can’t be taught by reason, shall be taught by force. And our force is our togetherness and unity. We have already proved it through our several rigorous struggle programmes from pre-independence era till date. We have fought and achieved. The glorious history of P & T Trade Union Movement tells us that nothing can stop us.  We can achieve all our demands through our unity and agitation, through one platform and one voice. We have just to carry forward our glorious traditions with additions of new ideas that will suit our future needs with an eye to the current transformation. And it is quite possible in the era of digital world. Just a commitment is required. A recall to our historic struggles in the past will definitely add to our future success.

Let the New Year unite all under one umbrella to fight for common causes and welfare of the society and bring peace and prosperity for all.

Happy New Year, 2016. 

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