Monday 7 January 2019

An Appeal!

Dear Comrades,
The historic all India General Strike called by all Central Trade Unions of the country (except  BMS), Farmers, Workers, Central Govt. Employees including Postal, PSUs and independent Federations is going to be organised for two days i. e January 8 & 9,2019.

This historic strike intends to highlight the plight of the peasants and workers in particular and the common people in general who are going through the worst period in their life and occupation because of a corporate friendly and anti people regime.

As witness during last four and half years, jobs have gone down and unemployment has gone up. The assurance given for 2 crores job a year remained in a slogan. There are about six lakhs vacant posts remaining unfilled in various Central Government departments. The miseries of the farmers are being worsened day by day.  Intolerance for small occupation, small trade, small sector workers goes on every day. Forest Rights of forest dwelling population is yet to be recognised and respected. The economy of the country is collapsing with banks assets are becoming non-performing. Due to speculative trade in commodity market and non-universalization of Public Distribution System, price rise is becoming uncontrolled.

The working conditions of the workers both in organized and unorganised sectors have been on constant deterioration. The labour laws are going to be amended unilaterally. There is no strict enforcement of all basic labour laws   and stringent no punitive measures for violation of labour laws for which workers / employees are suffering and the employers are benefited. There is no social security coverage to the workers. Disinvestment in Central/State/ Public sector undertakings is increasing day by day. Casual and contract workers are not being regularized. Privatization / corporatization and outsourcing of Govt. establishment and Govt. services are becoming the habit of the Govt.

Most of the recommendations of 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) are retrograde, especially regarding Minimum Pay and Fitment formula.  The NJCA representing entire Central Govt. employees had given notice for indefinite strike from 11th July 2016 demanding modifications in the recommendations of 7th CPC. To avert the inevitable strike action, a Group of Ministers consisting of Shri. Rajnath Singh, Home Minister, Shri. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister and Shri. Suresh Prabhu, then Railway Minister held discussion with NJCA leaders on 30-06-2016 and assured that the main demand of increase in Minimum Pay and Fitment formula will be considered favourably and for that purpose a High Level Committee will be constituted by the Government which will submit its report within four months time.  This assurance was confirmed through a press statement issued by Finance Ministry on 06-07-2016.  Even though two years are over since then, neither High Level Committee is constituted by Government nor the assurance given by Group of Ministers implemented.  Entire employees and pensioners feel let down and betrayed. Now Government has made it clear in the Parliament that at present, no such proposal for increase in Minimum Pay and Fitment formula is under consideration of the Government.

          Contributory Pension Scheme (called as New Pension Scheme - NPS) was introduced through an executive order with effect from 01-01-2004 for all Central Government employees who joined service on or after 01-01-2004.  Subsequently Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act (PFRDA) was enacted to make it statutory.  As per the NPS 10% Pay plus DA will be recovered from the employee each month and an equal amount will be contributed by Government.  The amount goes to the Pension Fund and from there to share market.  As per the PFRDA Act - “There shall not be any implicit or explicit assurance of benefit except market based guarantee mechanism to be purchased by the subscribers”.  Thus it can be seen that the contribution in the Pension Fund is fully dependent on the vagaries of share market.  There is no guarantee whether pension will be received at the age of 60 years and even if received what will be the amount of pension. Now, many employees who entered service on or after 01-01-2004 has started retiring from service after completing 12 to 13 years service.  They receive a megre amount of 900 to 1700 as monthly pension, whereas as per the old pension scheme an employee with minimum 10 years service is eligible for 50% of last pay drawn as monthly pension, subject to a minimum of Rs.9,000/- per month, that too without giving any contribution to the pension fund.  With meager amount of Rs.900 to 1700 how a pensioner and his family can survive?

          It is this bitter reality that compels the employees to demand scraping of NPS and restoration of the old Pension Scheme for all those employees who entered service on or after 01-01-2004.

Consequent upon the appointment of 7th Central Pay Commission, the Government set up a separate committee on 19-11-2015 for revision of wages of three lakhs Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS) of Postal Department.  Even though the Committee submitted its report on 24-11-2016, the Government delayed its implementation for 18 months.  Aggrieved by this, entire GDS employees went on 16 days indefinite strike and finally Government approved the wage revision.  Even though the revised pay scales recommended by the Committee is approved with effect from 01-07-2018, the formula for pay fixation and calculation of arrears from 01-01-2016 to 30-06-2018, recommended by the Committee is modified by the Government to the detriment of the employees resulting in loss of huge amount of arrears to each Gramin Dak Sevak.  Further some other recommendations of the Committee like composite allowance, raising the maximum limit of ex-gratia gratuity to 5 lakhs, three financial upgradations, enhancement of paid leave from 20 to 30, Enhancement of monthly subscription and insurance cover of EDGIS, Enhancement of working hours as per workload upto 8 hours, combined duty allowance, retirement on last day of the month on which GDS attains the retirement age etc. are either modified/curtailed or rejected by the Government.  Recommendations like grant of Children Education Allowance, Emergency leave, Accumulation of paid leave upto 180 days, Insurance Scheme, Limited transfer liability, Voluntary Discharge Scheme, lesser qualifying service for Limited Departmental Competitive Examinations (LDCE) etc. are yet to be approved by the Government.  Our demand for regularisation and grant of pension as per CCS (Pension) Rules 1972, Introduction of Medical Insurance Scheme, weightage increment for every 3 years service to seniors, etc. are not considered favourably by the Government.  In short, the attitude of the Government towards the genuine demands of the GDS employees is not at all positive and Govt. want to continue the inhuman exploitation of GDS.

Thousands of Casual and Contract workers are engaged in various Central Government departments against permanent Group-C vacant posts and also to perform other work which is permanent/perennial in nature like sweeping etc.  Consequent on introduction of ban on recruitment by successive governments in power, their number increased phenomenally.  Government is not ready to regularize them and is not even ready to grant equal wage for equal work reiterated in the latest Supreme Court Judgment.

           Govt. has restricted the compassionate appointments to 5% of the total Direct recruitment quota vacancies earmarked for each year in each recruiting units of various departments.  This has resulted in rejection of even genuine and deserving cases of compassionate appointments.  The dependents of thousands of employees who died while in service are put to untold sufferings due to this inhuman decision of the Central Government.

          Government has issued instructions banning all peaceful agitational programmes like dharnas, demonstrations etc.  Various negotiating forums under the JCM Scheme are not convened regularly and has become almost defunct or ineffective.

Under the circumstances, the initiative of all like-minded trade unions   and independent Federations including Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers have come together to protest against the unjust policies of the Union government.

We urge upon all our staff members to participate enmasse and make this historic strike successful. Kindly don’t take any plea to stay away from the main stream. We have to save our Constitution and our Nation as well.

This is a do or die position.

= Bruhaspati Samal =
Circle Secretary, AIPEU, Gr-C, Odisha,
Chairman, NFPE Odisha State CoC &
Leader (RJCM), Staff Side

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