3.REPORT SUBMITTED BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL TO THE FEDERAL EXECUTIVE OF NFPE
Dear Comrade President, Office Bearers of the Federation and the General Secretaries of all affiliated Unions / Associations!
We are meeting in our Federal Executive after a gap of more than 9 months. Many events have taken place during this period that have a direct bearing on our movement. This is an attempt to place them in brief for facilitating provocation of a lively discussion to reach objective conclusions that should guide us for our future functioning.
International & National Situation: The financial melt down that started in USA and spread across the world including several advanced economies of Europe and Asia has been the major international event of recent times. Greater economies have been tottering under the impact of the financial crisis. The camp of Imperialism that has no worth while rival since the collapse of the camp of Socialism has been unable to provide stability to the world economy after its less than two decades of foisted globalisation and neo-liberal reforms on the entire world. The free market economy theory has thus proved to be a total failure. The protagonists of privatisation mantra are pleading for bail out and huge subsidies and aids from the States for saving the collapse of giant private sector industries and banks and insurance companies. In effect there has been an undeclared nationalisation through purchase of majority shares by the Government! We should not fail to point out to our members that under crisis the ideologues of privatisation have no compunction of begging for bail out forgetting that such bail outs of public sector was cited by the same persons in support of dismantlement of public sector institutions in the past! At the same time let us not fail to see that even the economy of India was not beyond the reach of this international crisis even though the speed of the neo-liberal policies was reduced due to stiff opposition by the left parties in Parliament and the struggles launched by the Indian working class. Due to its impact the Central Government had to adopt various bail out measures to protect the economy from collapsing.
However there appears that the Government has not learnt the appropriate lessons and a section of the corporate media is trying to influence the policies of Government for pursuing a more vigorous neo-liberal posture including privatisation of pension, financial and insurance reforms etc. The media is attempting to interpret the UPA victory as an endorsement by the people for speedy implementation of reforms agenda, when in practice the victory is for stability and secularism and also due to pro-poor measures like NREGS etc enacted during the past tenure of UPA. The need for a continued and sustained movement in defence of our social security with a correct tactics of creating a strong public opinion against such retrograde measurers is therefore paramount.
NFPE Solidarity Strike for GDS: NFPE Federal Secretariat had to take a decision on our stand towards the Indefinite Strike call by the GDS CHQ. Even though the NFPE All India Convention held at Guntur on the eve of P3 AIC had unanimously resolved to launch an Indefinite Strike in January 2009 on a Postal Charter of Demands that was to be synchronized by a strike call by the Confederation, the Secretariat had to decide for solidarity Indefinite Strike for the GDS strike. The above solidarity strike was successful only in four Circles like West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra and Tamilnadu. In all other circles the participation of regular departmental employees was very dismal except in RMS wing of Assam / NE Circle, where the strike for one day was total. The performance of strike by regular employees, the talks held with the representatives of NFPE by Gopinath Committee and the letter of department to take the opinion of the staff side before finalising and submitting the proposals to Government have forced the Secretariat to call off the agitation after second day. The GDS Union that continued the strike for want of a written agreement before withdrawal for one more day and withdrew on the end of third day strike on a written assurance by the department for a sympathetic consideration.
The Indefinite Strike though swift and short and was conducted for only two days and that too conducted only in some circles, the strike had created a situation not favourable to launch another strike in quick succession. There was al element of feel good factor also in the aftermath of implementation of pay commission recommendations. The strike preparations undertaken by us did not rouse any strike tempo amongst the employees. Therefore the intended Indefinite Strike from 20th January 2009 could not take off and therefore the strike call was withdrawn after discussions in the managing bodies of Confederation and NFPE.
Soon after the GDS CHQ issued another call for an Indefinite Strike and requested the NFPE and its affiliated unions for support. The Federal Secretariat met again but decided to extend solidarity in the form of demonstrations only. There was no possibility of organising another solidarity strike by us. However the second Indefinite Strike did not take place.
Withdrawal of Strike Call by Confederation and NFPE: As per the decision of the National Executive of Confederation of Central Government Employees, the Confederation served strike notice for launching an Indefinite Strike from 20th January 2009. According to the decision taken in the all India NFPE Convention held at Guntur and to synchronize the action with the Confederation call, NFPE also served strike notice with an additional Sectional Charter of Demands. Strike Campaign Tour programme was chalked out and undertaken by CHQ level office bearers. The situation was reviewed in the next National Executive of Confederation and the Federal Secretariat of NFPE. The feed back from circles indicated that the preparations undertaken have not reached that extent to successfully organise an Indefinite Strike. Meanwhile attempts were made to meet the Prime Minister through the good offices Senior Parliament Member Comrade Basudev Acharya but at the last minute all appointments were cancelled due to the ill-health of the Prime Minister. The Secretary Department of Posts held discussion on the Sectional Charter of Demands submitted by NFPE and FNPO separately with the federations. Therefore taking into account of all these factors, the Indefinite Strike call was deferred by both the Confederation and NFPE. The Confederation is yet to meet again in its National Executive to review the situation prevailing. This Federal Executive has to take stock of the situation in its entirety and to take appropriate decisions.
Reverification and recent court cases: NFPE and All India Unions have taken full efforts to galvanise the rank and file for taking up the challenge of re-verification ordered once again after the direction of Madras High Court. We are yet to receive full information from many circles. Meanwhile the BPEF has filed two court cases against the re-verification process on different grounds in Jodhpur and Patna High Courts. NFPE and FNPO have also been made respondents in the Patna Case. Jodhpur High Court had directed the Department of Posts to not to complete the process of verification. Patna High Court had not issued any stay orders but issued notices only. We took immediate action to engage our advocate to defend our position in Patna Case. The situation is to be discussed by the Federal Executive. The newly formed Postal Civil Wing Association has no problem in staking the claim for recognition as the first status union. The newly formed SBCO Union also recorded improved performance in new circles like Andhra in comparison to last time but full figures are not available to assess the actual position.
International Events: The WFTU affiliated Trade Union International for Public and Allied Services held its Congress in Brasilia [Brazil] from 28th to 30th June 2009. Confederation was allotted with two delegates and the Confederation leadership decided that it will be represented by the Secretary General Confederation and by the NFPE, the biggest affiliate of Confederation. As decided by the Federal Secretariat, the Secretary General NFPE attended the above Congress. The Congress was attended by about 30 countries from different continents which debated the Report of the General Secretary. The discussions revealed that the attacks of neo-liberal policies are identical in all the countries and that the militant forces are resisting them through struggles. The south American Continent that is undergoing revolutionary upsurge reflected in this Congress also. Largest participation was from countries of that continent only. Indian delegation consisted of nearly 25 comrades. The Policy and Programme resolution adopted unanimously had resolved to forge stronger ties between the trade unions of public services in all countries under the banner of TUI and to launch universal Programme of Action against the neo-liberal global offensive. A new leadership with an enlarged Secretariat was elected unanimously. Comrade K.K.N.Kutty the Secretary General Confederation was elected as the Vice President for Asian Continent and the Pakistani leader was elected as the Director Finance. The Congress amended the Statute of the TUI to enable the Vice Presidents to run a separate Secretariat of the respective continent.
UNI – Apro had organised four day seminars in Bangkok and Ayottaya in Thailand from 8th to 11th June 2009 and invited one representative from NFPE. As per the decision of the Federal Secretariat, Comrade KVS GS P3 participated in the above international event in which Indonesia, Korea, Singapore, Nepal, Philipines, Vietnam, Srilanka and Japan participated besides India. The Seminars emphasised the topic of International Economic Crisis and its impact on Postal and Logistics services in different countries. In addition to Seminar presentations, group discussions also were conducted. Comrade KVS made a powerful presentation about our organisation and the situation of postal operations in India. This international event helped to understand the situation of major Postal & Logistic Players in several countries in our Asia Pacific Region and further strengthened the bonds between our Federation and the Union Network International since our decision to join the UNI as a Member Affiliate. In this background the UNI Apro Regional Conference is going to be held in Jakarta in Indonesia from 24th to 29th July 2009 and the UNI had already extended its invitation to the Secretary General NFPE for participation.
Boycott of German Tour: The Department initially ignored the Federation and selected a team for German Tour ignoring some unions also. Later the name of the SG NFPE was included on mentioning the omission to the DG by the former SG NFPE. The ignored unions protested their omission but the department ignored to reply. The earlier Federal Executive decided to place a comprehensive letter on this issue to the department, which was to be written after that intended tour. However, the whole tour was dropped for some unknown reasons. Recently another tour was constituted with 6 representatives from NFPE including the SG NFPE but without Administrative Union. Then again suddenly the department reduced the number as 3 and excluded the SG NFPE and General Secretaries R4 and Postal Accounts. No consultations were held with the Federation. The Department's stand of excluding the Secretary General NFPE from the announced German Study Tour after including earlier has caused a serious reaction and P3, P4, R3 General Secretaries opted to boycott the tour itself. The Federal Secretariat decided to boycott the entire tour in this background and give protest letters. The attitude of Postal Directorate on this issue was opposed in writing by the above General Secretaries and also by the NFPE in which the failure to maintain 5:2 formula has been raised by us. The Department chose to ignore our protest and went ahead with the truncated tour by maintaining that 5:2 formula cannot be applied to such study tours. We thereupon chose to represent the matter up to the level of Prime Minister of India and Honourable Ministers of Finance and Communications & IT. But the stand taken by our comrades had enhanced the prestige of our organisation.
Corporate Plan of Department of Posts: The Department's Corporate Plan is exhibited in the website of the Department. The main goal seems to be to transform the India Post into an organisation of commercial profit. Though some expansion is planned, the emphasis is on outsourcing and franchising of postal operations. Institutional franchisee outlets are the new addition to the existing individual franchisee outlets. The conversion of PLI / RPLI services into a company is under contemplation. The talk about streamlining the postal services for improving the quality of service may result in certain anti-employee postulations. This Executive has to discuss this important issue.
Second Phase of Mail Consolidation: The attack on RMS is coming up in a new form and in the name of second phase of mail consolidation, the Department is embarking upon closure of RMS with more than 10,000 mails also. The earlier understanding reached with the staff side is thus going to be breached. The surface foreign mails handled so far by the Foreign Post offices have been handed over to AMPCs on one hand and RMS Offices are being closed and merged with other offices on the other hand. The staffs of foreign post were restless and the Kolkata Office went on continuous demonstrations. The Department did not feel it necessary to consult with the Staff Side on such vital issues and refused to maintain status quo when protested by the Federation with regard to restoration of foreign surface mails to foreign post offices.
National Anomaly Committee: The Government had constituted a National Anomaly Committee at the level of National Council JCM. We have submitted some items to the Confederation for taking up in the Committee. The Confederation has submitted more than 20 anomalies of pay and pension to the National Anomaly Committee. Some more items have been suggested by us for inclusion. The Committee is yet to meet.
Departmental Anomaly Committee: The Department of Posts had constituted a Postal Departmental Anomaly Committee with 5 NFPE staff side members. Items like TBOP Anomaly; PO&RMS Accountants issue; Supervisory Allowances; Charge Hand issue; Artisan Grade I issue; Technical Postal Assistant issue; System Administrators issue; Marketing Executives issue; Stenographers issue; Data Entry Operator issue; Higher Pay to Supervisors; OSA; Head Mail Peon anomaly; BCR Group D issue; Cash Handling Allowance to Treasurers; Issues of Laboratory Technicians, Medical Store Keepers and Nurses in Postal Dispensaries; Anomaly of Sorters in DAP are some of the issues taken up with the Departmental Anomaly Committee by the Staff Side of Departmental Council JCM.
Filling up of vacant posts: The Screening Committee had been wound up with effect from 1.4.2009. However the positive effect of this action would be felt only from next year. The efforts of Postal Administration on our pressure to get exemption for filling up all the 24000 vacant posts were not agreed to by the Committee headed by the DOPT Secretary. Around 2300 vacancies of 2007-08 ADR only are released and even the assured 1 /3rd vacancy of ADR 2005-06 & 2006-07 is not yet sanctioned. The shortage of staff continues to be the single largest burning issue for the employees in the background of the fact that even the allotted vacancies of 2007-08 ADR are blocked in the name of pending amendment to Recruitment Rules. No vacancy in Group D is allowed for filling up in the ADR. The adverse impact on GDS and Temporary Status is too harsh. This item was therefore focussed in the recent Demonstrative Programme of Postal JCA.
RRR / Casual labourers / Part Time Contingent non-revision of wages: There appears to be some serious problem in revising the wages of these sections as per 6th CPC wages. The reason is that the DOPT / MOF questioning the need for utilising such workers instead of resorting to outsourcing. The issue was taken up repeatedly by us with the Directorate but due to the above stumbling bloc no improvement so far and therefore we have included in the Burning Charter of Demands for June – July Programme by the Postal JCA.
Productivity Linked Bonus for 2008-09: Calculations have started by the Department for measuring the productivity but no attempt seems to have been made to compute a new PLB Formula as per the old directive of the MOF. The direction by the MOF is used as a ruse to arbitrarily apply a cap of 60 days by the MOF but despite our opposition the Department of Posts is not showing any eagerness to formulate a new formula. It was in this background that this issue has been included in the Burning Charter of Demands for June- July 2009 Postal JCA Demonstrative Programme.
Modified ACP: The eagerness exhibited by the Department of Posts earlier in implementing the Modified ACP in lieu of TBOP/BCR is not seen in action. There has been considerable delay. Now we are told that before the end of this month the ACP orders might be issued. As we were led to believe that ACP orders are likely to be issued, we did not include it as an item in the Burning Charter of Demands.
Postal Crusader: Due to our efforts the danger of losing the title of Postal Crusader has been overcome and further efforts to make necessary corrections in the records of the Registrar of Newspapers in India would also be taken. The circulation of the monthly organ of the Federation is static around 4000.
Financial Review: For the first time the Federal Executive is reported that there has been some improvement in the financial position of the NFPE. Due to measures taken by us and by the action of certain Circle / Divisional / Branch organisations, Federation got the pay commission special donation around 10 lakhs. We could clear all dues to Printer, News Print supplier etc. Pay Commission first instalment for the former and the present Secretary General also stands cleared. However it is to be understood that total quantum of special donation received represents only a fraction of our total membership. There are many organisations with less than our membership but with a very solid finance. It would be essential to urge our rank and file leadership to concentrate those members who did not donate during first instalment payment of arrears at the time of disbursement of second instalment of arrears shortly.
Postal JCA Programme: The Directorate issued an order for compulsory pay disbursement through cheques / direct credit through banks. This provoked the employees in several parts and in that background the Postal JCA of NFPE and FNPO coined some burning issues for a demonstrative programme on 29th June and 3rd July 2009. The response was better including in Delhi Circle. However, the Secretary was adamant to relent even on non-policy issues like pay disbursement through banks.
Immediate Future: The resentment is there amongst the staff due to staff shortage and also due to extreme pressure in Project Arrow areas. There is no action on cadre review despite our submission of proposals, while cadre review is under way in different other departments. We may consider organising the employees under a joint Programme of Action culminating in industrial action by the Postal JCA after holding discussions with the FNPO.