Monday, June 29, 2015

Joint Council of Action – the need of the hour

Bruhaspati Samal
Divisional Secretary
AIPEU, Gr.-C, Bhubaneswar

We, the Central Govt. employees are passing through such a critical moment when we are fighting heart and soul to save our respective Departments from corporatization / privatization. It is seen that in almost all the Departments, the Central Govt. employees are talking less on their common day to day problems, pay and promotion related issues etc. Rather, they are talking more about the corporatization, privatization, disinvestment and anti-workers / anti-employees policies of the present Govt. Mass scale down-sizing of various Central Govt. establishments, long term ban on creation of new posts, arbitrary abolition of posts, non-filing of vacant posts, out sourcing of sensitive jobs, 100% FDI in department like Railways, 49% FDI in Defence establishment etc. have given clear indication of the motive of the present Govt. to move towards privatization of Central Govt. establishments. Presently, the Govt. has been engaged in protecting interests of domestic and global corporate houses. A process is going on now first to corporatize not only Department of Posts but several other Govt organizations and PSUs and then to gradually weaken those organizations through disinvestment and eventually either to privatize or to close such organizations. As if, the present Govt. is a Govt. of the Corporate for the Corporate.
Perhaps this is the special characteristic of Indian democracy not to accept most of the times those things from political point of view which are considered right from economic point of view.  Illustratively, we can witness that those people once opposing disinvestment in UPA Govt., now considering disinvestment of nearly Rs.41000 crores during the current financial year from 15 Public Sector Undertakings including several NAVRATNA profit earning companies on the plea that nothing is left as surplus revenue with the Govt. to do welfare activities for the public and nation after incurring heavy expenditure towards payment of interest on loans, pay and allowances of the employees and subsidies.  Such plea taken by the Govt to adopt the disinvestment policy is nothing but to cover up its own deficiencies of poor economic policies befooling the common citizens of India. Recently, in an exclusive interview with Headlines Today's Karan Thapar on the first anniversary of BJP-led NDA government on 1st May, 2015, Arun Shourie, one of the most influential BJP leaders during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, criticised the Prime Minister for poor handling of the Indian economy. The government lacks clear thinking.  There is a big gap between perceptions and promises, and projections and performances. The present economic policy is directionless. There is no big picture in economic policy. The growth claims are only to make headlines and the government only wants to manage headlines. This has been substantiated by World Street Journal recently in an article titled “India’s Modi at one year - Euphoria phase is over, Challenges loom” and several other foreign media house like New York Times. Mr. Modi’s “Make in India” drive, which aims to supercharge manufacturing growth to 12% to 14% a year, is so far mostly hype. The economy is merely limping along.
But as responsible Indian Citizens, we the Central Govt employees can neither ignore the overwhelming majority of the toiling masses nor allow the innumerable multinational companies patronized by NDA Govt. to rule us again. We have already the bitter experience of one British East India Company. So this time, the struggle programmes will not be ordinary traditional struggles for pay and promotion. This will be a struggle to save the nation as a whole. This is not the problem of the postal employees alone so that NFPE will march ahead alone. Time has come for each and every Central Govt. establishment to raise voice together against the arbitrary amendment of Labour laws. We can’t sit silent when the basic rights of the workers are being snatched away. We have to register our strong protest against the arbitrary land acquisition bill intended to snatch away the rights of the farmers. We have to move a massive organizational campaign against all the anti-employees’ policies of the Govt. We cannot repeat the same mistake and allow the Companies to rule us again.
When devastation comes, no other alternative is left but to gather under one umbrella irrespective of cast, creed and colour, irrespective of cadre and wing and to raise one voice. That’s why,  we have already gathered under one umbrella in the name of National JCA comprising Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers, Railways and Defence Federations for common problems of the Central Govt. Employees and in the name of Postal JCA comprising NFPE and FNPO for postal related issues.  We have already proved it in the recent march to Parliament on 28th April, 2015 declaring indefinite strike from 23rd November, 2015 for all common issues of Central Govt. employees. As we know, the Indefinite Strike call given by the Postal JCA from 6th May 2015 has been deferred basing on the assurances of the Hon’ble Minister, Communications and IT. But assurances are assurances. We can’t believe on mere assurances. Under no circumstances, we will allow the Govt. to corporatize any Central Govt. establishments including postal services. As per the decision made in the meeting with Official Side on 25thFebruary, 2015, the Staff was advised to meet and discuss the issue with the concerned departments on our demand “No privatization, PPP or FDI in Railways and Defence Establishments and no corporatization of postal services”. Accordingly the Postal JCA leaders met the Secretary (Posts) on 30th April, 2015 and Hon’ble Minister, Communications on 05th May, 2015 and discussed on all our sectional demands including “No Corporatization of Postal Services”. The replies given to the Staff Side are not at all convincing. While the GDS issues were just noted by the Chairman, National Council, JCM, the Hon’ble Minister, Communications assured to reconsider with an open mind. And we better know the open-mindedness of the present Govt. With respect to ban on creation of posts, it was replied that expectations are made for operational needs. For scrapping of PFRDA Act, we were suggested to discuss the issue with Department of Financial services. For removal of arbitrary ceiling on compassionate appointment, it was agreed that DoPT would revisit the issue. And most importantly, no assurance has been given by the Hon’ble Minister on corporatization of Postal services.
In addition, while the functional activities of the Department are drastically changing inviting innumerable new problems to the employees especially on I T modernization Project and Core Banking Solutions, the administration is exploiting us to the maximum extent as if we are bonded labourers. The fixed duty hour which we had achieved through our historic struggle movements has now been a question. With increased working hours due to acute shortage of staff and arbitrary abolition of posts, additional pressure due unachievable targets for POSB, PLI/RPLI and business products, frequent system problems due to improper software, inadequate professionals and outdated accessories, hasty migration of post offices to CBS platform without required technical, hardware and manpower support, compulsion of cent percent delivery in the absence of adequate delivery 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. The callousness of the administration needs to be answered properly.
So now, only one voice is required.  This time, the voice should be louder and unique. 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. To be more active and more progressive, let’s promise to be more militant and aggressive on our issues under the banner of National / Postal Joint Council of Action. Hope, the unions/associations presently out of the JCA should consider actively to join the mass movement to save the nation.

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