lessons of the gds bonus struggle
Secretary General, Confederation & Ex.SG, NFPE.
The Govt. of India had issued the orders for payment of enhanced bonus to all Central Govt. Employees on 29-10-2016. The bonus calculation ceiling is raised from Rs.3,500/- to Rs.7,000/- from 01-04-2014. Accordingly the bonus payment to all regular employees for the financial year 2014-15 and 2015-16 was paid with arrears at the enhanced rate of Rs.7,000/- in August 2016. Unfortunately the Postal Board refused to issue enhanced bonus ceiling in respect of about three lakh Gramin Dak Sevaks working in the Department of Posts. It referred the case to Gramin Dak Sevaks Committee for recommendations.
The previous GDS Committee headed by Shri Nataraja Murthy had made a retrograde recommendation in its report. As per that recommendation the productivity of GDS is only 50% of the regular employees and hence it recommended only 50% bonus paid to regular employees to GDS. At that time the bonus calculation ceiling was Rs.3,500/-. As per Nataraja Murthy Committee, the GDS are eligible for Rs.1,750/- calculation ceiling only. Hence the Postal Board refused to extend the enhanced bonus ceiling of Rs.3,500/- for GDS. Against this stand NFPE and AIPEU-GDS along with Postal Joint Council of Action including FNPO and NUGDS conducted series of agitational programmes including strike. Postal JCA discussed the case with the then Minister of Communications also. Finance Ministry rejected the case for enhancement of bonus to 3,500/- three times inspite of favourable recommendations from Minister, Communications. Finally, after prolonged struggle the Finance Ministry approved the enhancement and orders for grant of bonus at the rate of Rs.3,500/- was issued for Gramin Dak Sevaks also.
This time, the Chairman of the GDS Committee, Shri Kamalesh Chandra, took a different stand. The Committee recommended the enhanced bonus of Rs.7,000/- to GDS also. It stated that the overall revenue generated by GDS Post offices and the overall expenditure for running the GDS Post offices is almost equal. The actual deficit on account of GDS is only 200 crores, whereas the total deficit of Postal department is more than 6000 crors. That means the loss on account of GDS is very meagre when compared to the loss incurred for running the departmental post offices, RMS and Administrative Offices. Hence, Shri Kamalesh Chandra Committee made a favourable recommendation to Postal Board to grant enhanced bonus to GDS at the rate of Rs.7,000/-. Postal Board sent the file to Finance Ministry for approval. The Finance Ministry after detailed study, gave approval and Department of Posts issued orders on 27-10-2016.
Role played by NFPE & AIPEU - GDS:
NFPE and AIPEU-GDS under the leadership of Com.R.N.Parashar, Secretary General, NFPE and Com. P.Panduranga Rao, General Secretary, AIPEU-GDS, gave call for agitational programmes along with FNPO & NUGDS, protesting against the discrimination shown towards GDS and demanding enhanced bonus calculation ceiling of Rs.7,000/- to GDS also for the financial year 2014-15 and 2015-16 also demanding payment of revised wages to all casual, part-time, contingent employees from 01-01-2006. It conducted nationwide protest demonstrations and mass dharna in front of all Circle/Regional and Divisional Offices. It declared indefinite hunger fast in front of Postal Directorate (Dak Bhavan, New Delhi) from 3rd November 2016 and two days strike on 9th &10th November, 2016. Notice for the two days strike was served to the Secretary, Department of Posts on 20-10-2016. Intensive campaign was undertaken throughout the country and the response from employees was overwhelming.
Departmental Employees and GDS unity is exhibited:
In 1984, first time in the history of Postal Trade Union movement the Postmen,Group D & EDAs Union (NFPE) under the leadership of late Com. Adinarayana, the legendary leader, gave a call for nation-wide one day strike on 19th September 1984 exclusively for one demand ie; the demand of the Extra Departmental employees. Again after 32 years NFPE & AIPEU-GDS along with FNPO & NUGDS took a historic decision to go for two days nation- wide strike on 2016 November 9th & 10th, both by departmental employees and Gramin Dak Sevaks, exclusively for the demands of most down-trodden section of GDS and Casual Labourers. No other demand of departmental employees was added to the charter of demands. We proved that NFPE, AIPEU-GDS and Postal JCA always stood with the GDS and Casual Labourers and the departmental employees declared that GDS and Casual Labourers are our own family members and we will not tolerate any discrimination and shall go for two days strike for GDS and Casual Labourers. This is really an inspiring experience.
Role of recognised GDS Union:
The recognised GDS Union of Shri S.S.Mahadevaiah, earlier used to declare that I will go for indefinite strike only as no purpose will be served by one day or two days strike. He has written many write-ups and circulars earlier criticising NFPE & AIPEU-GDS for one day or two day’s strike. The same leader, who earlier said that I don’t believe in one day or two days strike, this time was afraid of the NDA Government and decided to go for two days strike on 25th & 26th October 2016. He has not made any campaign other than giving strike notice. His list of new office bearers elected in the belated last All India Conference was pending before the Directorate for approval. He was afraid of loosing recognition, if he goes on strike. The Department of Posts has clearly informed him about the consequences of the strike. After discussion with Department he surrendered and agreed to withdraw the strike and his strike call was withdrawn on 24-10-2016 itself, even before the approval of the Finance Ministry. The leader who used to criticise others for deferring the strike earlier, has ran away from the battle field half way, fearing withdrawal of recognition. Thus the real face of the recognised union leader was exposed before the entire postal employees. NFPE has already reminded him earlier itself that- '' you can make fools some GDS for sometimes but cannot make fool all GDS for all time”. Sri Mahadevaiah is afraid of facing membership verification also and is requesting the department every time for extension.
NFPE, AIPEU-GDS and PJCA stand-
Departmental held discussion with NFPE, AIPEU-GDS, FNPO& NUGDS. They have also cautioned the leaders on the consequences of the strike. But, unlike Shri Mahadevaiah who ran away from battle field fearing de-recognition NFPE, AIPEU-GDS and PJCA took a bold stand and declared that we will not withdraw the strike unless and until orders for payment of enhanced bonus is issued by Department and we are ready to face any victimisation. It also demanded issuing of instructions regarding casual labourer wages. Finally department issued GDS bonus orders on 27-10-2016. It has already issued orders for payment of Casual Labour wages from 01-01-2006 and agreed to issue strict instructions to all Chief PMGs for implementation.
GDS Committee and role of NFPE & AIPEU-GDS
Government has appointed a separate GDS committee under the Chairmanship of Retired Postal Board Member Shri Kamlesh Chandra. Our demand for inclusion of GDS also under the purview of 7th CPC was not accepted by the NDA Government NFPE and AIPEU-GDS has submitted a detailed memorandum to GDS Committee. A delegation of NFPE and AIPEU-GDS has met the Chairman, GDS Committee three times and tendered oral evidence. Our main demand is grant of Civil Servant Status and grant of all benefits of departmental employees to GDS. The GDS Committee has informed that it will submit it’s recommendations to Government in November 2016 . If the recommendations are against the interest of the GDS, NFPE & AIPEU-GDS will definitely go for struggle including strike along with postal JCA.
The recognised GDS Union of Shri Mahadevaiah could not settle any of the demands of GDS during the last more than 15 years. He don’t believe in the unity of GDS and departmental employees. He is treating the departmental employees and their recognised federations ( NFPE & FNPO) as the enemy of GDS. He is also against the united movement of Central Government Employees and Confederation of Central Government Employees and workers.
In the above circumstances it is the duty of every GDS employee to strengthen NFPE and APIEU-GDS. It is proved that only a United Struggle of departmental employees and GDS can settle the genuine demands of GDS employees. Realising this fact, all the GDS are requested to vote for AIPEU-GDS, by submitting the authorisation letters (declaration forms) in favour of AIPEU-GDS, which is an Associate Member of NFPE, in the coming membership verification.
Role of Confederation and JCM (National Council) Staff Side:
The Confederation of Central Govt. Employees & Workers extended full support and solidarity to the strike call of NFPE, AIPEU-GDS and Postal JCA for enhancement of bonus ceiling to 7000 and called upon all other Central Govt. employees (other than Postal employees) to conduct solidarity demonstrations on the days of the two day strike on 9th &10th November 2016. The Confederation took initiative to raise the issue in the JCM (NC) Standing Committee meeting held on 25-10-2016 along with the JCM staff side. The GDS Bonus issue was discussed in the JCM with Govt. and demanded immediate settlement.
Congratulations and Salute to All:
No doubt, the GDS bonus ceiling enhancement is as great victory for NFPE, AIPEU-GDS and Postal JCA including FNPO and NUGDS. The departmental employees and GDS who unitedly conducted the struggle till victory, deserves congratulations. The unity of departmental employees and Gramin Dak Sevaks should be further strengthened and those who are trying to break the unity should be isolated. Coming days are very crucial and may demands more united and militant struggles. Let us once again declare that “Unity is for struggle and struggle for Unity”.