Wednesday, 1 January 2020
2020 New Year’s Pledge Urges United Struggle
Circle Secretary, AIPEU, Group-C &
Leader, RJCM (Staff Side), Odisha Circle
The time is advancing relentlessly with the ticks of the clock 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.
2019 reelected the new Govt. with much hope and anxiety that it will understand the psychology of 130 crore Indians including farmers, unemployed youths, workers and employees and secure all its citizens liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of status and opportunity and promote among them all fraternity assuring dignity of individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation rendering social/political/economic justice as enjoined in the holy Constitution of India. But the present political, economic, social and religious status of the country especially during 2019 speaks something different. The national unity, social cohesion, secular and federal structure and democratic ethos of this vast sub-continent of heterogeneous racial, lingual, religious and social culture which upholds its rich cultural heritage through religious pluralism with Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Budhists, Jains etc are witnessed to be affected in many ways during 2019.
While the negative impacts of demonetization, GST etc during yesteryears were carried forward to 2019, economic slowdown and unemployment situation added with CAA/NRC issues during the last part of 2019 have increased violence and vandalism grossly affecting the peace-loving minds of the common citizens and environment of the country at large. People are seen to be divided in the name of caste and religion. In between, the commitment of the Govt. is seen to be more inclined towards the big corporate houses rather than Govt. establishments through writing off of major part of huge default of corporate houses amounting nearly ten lakh crore rupees and concessions in direct taxes to the tune of 5.84 lakh crore. The scalars and vectors of massive outsourcing and aggressive corporatization / privatization with mass scale closure / merger of Central Govt. establishments and PSUs are highly alarming. Railway Production Units and Platforms, Ordnance Factories, Printing Presses, Airports, Seaports, Posts and Telecom are not spared. Trade Union rights are under attack through arbitrary amendment of 44 Labour Laws to 4 codes prioritizing the benefit of the employers. The unemployment rate in the country has been reached to a 45 years high. As many as 7 lakh posts are lying vacant in the CG establishments. There is no control on price rise. Income inequality and disparity between rich and poor have become abhorrent. The rich is becoming richer and poor is becoming poorer. The Pension has been taken away and the future of the younger generation has been darkened in the name of NPS. The job security is being snatched away through Fixed Term Employment.
With so many unsolved and unwarranted issues of 2019 before us, we are going to greet 2020. The challenge in the beginning of the year 2020 is now much bigger before us, especially before the common citizens and entirety of workers and employees for which ten Central Trade Unions and hundreds of independent federations including Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers have decided to register their protest against all policy deficiencies of the Govt. through one day nationwide general strike on 08.01.2020. The most crucial task before us, therefore is to further widen the unity of the working class movement and heighten the struggle towards all offensive measures adopted against the working class. Central Government employees have a rich history and legacy of heroic struggles and sacrifices right from the colonial days. That rich history which we proudly inherit will certainly inspire and give us confidence to confront and combat.
In this context, it is a proud moment for all of us to recollect the glorious journey of Postal / Central Govt. employeesTrade Union Movement through National Federation of Post & Telecom Employees (NFPTE) alias National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) which enters the 66th 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 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. 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 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. NFPE’s struggle movements in particular are not just confined to pay or leave etc. The story of success and sacrifice of NFPTE/Confederation is too long to describe.
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 in the name of India Post Payments Bank Limited has added salt to the injury. 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 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.
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.
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.
Workers are not beggars. 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 and bring a thundering success to the one day nationwide general strike on 08.01.2020 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. Let truth and justice prevail.
Happy New Year, 2020.