We strongly condemn the attack on CPI(M) headquarters at New Delhi, AKG Bhawan and defacing the sign board by the RSS-Hindutwa forces. The intolerance towards secularism is increasing day by day. Government should take immediate action against the culprits.
A Convention of BSNL Casual and Contract workers was held at Palakkad on 13-02-2016 at the Union Office participated by more than 300 workers. It was presided over by Com. Chandrasekharan, Dist. President, BSNLEU. Com. Sunil Kumar, District Secretary, CCLU welcomed all. Leaders of BSNLEU and CCLU were present.
Com.V.A.N.Namboodiri, President BSNLCCWF and Patron BSNLEU, while inaugurating the Convention reported about the decisions of the Nagercoil AIC and the Charter of Demands submitted to the BSNL Management and the discussions taken so far. He congratulated the Kerala workers for the magnificent and militant struggle jointly organised by BSNLEU, SNEA and CCLU against the corruption and anti-worker action of the former CGM Kerala and on the demands of the casual and contract workers. Com. K.Mohanan, Circle Secretary BSNLEU and Circle President CCLU briefed the house about the latest developments after the struggle and the negotiations being conducted for increasing the wages etc. Coms. P.R.Parameswaran, DS BSNLEU, senior leaders V.Kesavan, T.S.Parameswaran, Ajit Kumar, Circle Vice-President CCLU and other leaders also addressed.
The Convention took decisions to strengthen the organisation by increasing the membership and focusing the issue of the workers. It also decided to actively participate in the Membership Verification to ensure maximum support to BSNLEU.
The Magnificent Five days Strike of telecom workers from 19-051995.
The 4.5 lakh of telecom workers throughout the country by their magnificent response to the strike call given by the Federations, demonstrated their strong opposition the ill-motivated privatization of this vital telecom sector and their firm determination to defeat the same.
The National Telecom Policy (NTP- 1994) announced by the Government in the Parliament on 13th May 1994 envisaged that companies registered in India will be allowed to operate basic telecom services. Till now, only government was operating thee services being its monopoly. The condition that these companies should have experience of operating 5 lakh telephones made it compulsory for them to have collaboration with the MNCs, since no company in India had the experience, since telecom was the monopoly of the Department of Telecom.
The DOT violated all norms by giving Letter of Intent to a MNC, US WEST, to start pilot projects in four districts of T.Nadu, even before the tenders were opened. By another order, the CGMs of Telecom Circles were asked to allot spaces in offices/exchanges for private companies on request. The assurance given to the staff by former Communications Minister, Rajesh Pilot, that they will be consulted before any decision taken on privatization was violated.
The withdrawal of the strike to start from 17th April 1994 against privatization, by the three Federations was a set-back in the fight against privatization and it helped the management to move ahead. However, the formation of the Door Sanchar Sangharsh Samiti at the initiative of the E.III Union with other like-minded unions, the All India Convention against telecom privatisation held in New Delhi on 20th April 1995 and the State level conventions and other campaign programmes organized by the DSS were able to educate the workers about the looming danger and mobilize them for struggle. It compelled the 3 Federations to come to the struggle programme and decided for the Indefinite Sit-in-Strike from 19th May 1995.
The government as part of threatening the employees directed the State Governments to invoke the drastic Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) to tackle and punish the striking works. But it did not have much result. The Central Government declared the strike as illegal on 17-05-1995. It also asked the state government to declare telecom services as Essential Services. The many state governments implemented the above directions. But the Left governments of Tripura and W.Bengal refused to implement the central directions and instead asked the centre to withdraw the NTP- 1994.
The strike was total from J&K to Kerala and from North East States to Gujarat. According to government it was 70%, but the fact is that it was almost 100%. The strike took place both in MTNL also effectively. The services were badly hit in all the places.
In Himachal Pradesh, army was called to maintain telecom services as per directions of the Communications Minister Sukh Ram. In Assam, the Punjab Police who were posted to tackle terrorist forces were diverted to deal with the telecom strike. 144 was declared in many places. Employees were not allowed to enter offices and they were kept out. Army was called in many places in North East states like Nagaland, Manipur. 144 was declared in Chandigarh. In the telecom factories strike was complete with industrial workers are also fully participating in the strike.
In short, the strike was unprecedented and complete all over the country.
Support and Solidarity
In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front fully supported the strike and organized demonstrations and rallies. All the organizations of the state/central government employees extended support. In Calcutta trade unions and service associations held massive demonstrations.
Central Trade unions, CITU and AITUC issued press statements extending support. CITU, AITUC, INTUC, BMS and HMS jointly addressed a letter to Prime Minister seeking an interview to discuss the matter.
10 prominent Members of parliament belonging to different parties viz. Indrajit Gupta, E.Balanandan, G.G.Swell, Susanta Chakraborty, Ramdeo Bhandary, Neelotpal Basu, Amal data, Asin Bala, Shivaji Patnaik, Laljan Pahra, Dipanker Mukherjee and Anil Basu addressed a letter to the Prime Minister supporting the strike and demanding a review of the national Telecom Policy- 1994.
Com. Desararth Deb, Chief Minister of Tripura and CPI(M) leader demanded Communications Minister Sukh Ram to reconsider the New Telecom Policy and also stated that the Tripura Government will not use ESMA against the telecom strike.
The National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) gave strong support and called upon its members to strike work for 2 hours on 26th June in solidarity with the striking telecom workers.
The All India State Government Employees Federation, ITI Employees Union, ITI Officers Association and many other organizations throughout the country supported the strike against privatization and organized solidarity actions like demonstrations, jathas etc.
The workers morale was very high and they showed enthusiasm and energy to fight =against the menace of privatization(To be continued)
13th February 2016 is the first death anniversary of Com. S.K.Vyas, the legendary leader of the Central Government Employees and also CG Pensioners. He left us last year at Metro Hospital Jaipur due to severe heart attack. National Co-ordination Committee of Pensioners’ Association (NCCPA) has called upon all its units to observe “Com.S.K.Vyas Memorial Day” by holding meetings, rallies etc. and explaining the ideals for which Vyasji lived and worked and our future tasks. AIBDPA has endorsed the call to observe the day in a very effective way.
All units of AIBDPA have been called to organise the day jointly with other pensioners’ organisation and the reports be sent to CHQ with photoes.
BSNL Employees Union, the Main Recognised Union, has applied for participation in the Membership Verification for recognition of unions to be held on 10th May 2016. Shri A.M.Gupta, GM(Restructuring) has been appointed as the Returning Officer. The verification by secret ballot will take place on 10th May and results declared on 12th May 2016.
This is the seventh Membership Verification in BSNL, the first starting from 2002. BSNLEU won in all the verifications except the first, which it lost to NFTE for a small % of votes. Consequent to the change in the Recognitions Rules, now there are two recognised unions BSNLEU and NFTE, the Main and Second Recognised Unions, respectively.
All India, Circle, SSA and Branch functionaries as also common workers have to be in the campaign to ensure the BSNLEU win with a good margin. 50% or should be the target of BSNLEU in this verification, which is possible if our comrades work in a planned manner meeting all the workers and explaining the gains achieved under BSNLEU leadership.
Let us start our campaign forthwith.
Though 66 years have passed, the massacre of 50 communists inside the Salem Jail (on 11th February 1950)still haunt us.
The Congress government both at centre and in undivided Madras Province were hunting the Communist leaders and hundreds of them were put in various jails. Most of them were freedom fighters and had sacrificed their entire lives fighting for the independence of the country. The jailed comrades organised and demanded better treatment and eatable food. The reaction was the brutal firing against the communists inside the jail. 22 comrades were murdered in cold blood. One of them was well known to me, was my neighbour and father of my classmate. He was a weak old man, Unni Gurukkal. He was arrested just because he was Communist and put in jail. He also was shot dead in the jail massacre.
On this 66 anniversary of their martyrdom, we pay our respectful homage to these comrades!
Since my mobile Sim Card No. 9868231431 is not working, I have taken a BSNL connection for the present till I reach Delhi. The new number is 9446762140. VAN Namboodiri.
Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee – Seven Decades of Dedicated service to the workers’ Cause
Com.Sisir Bhattacharjee with Com. V.A.N.Namboodiri at Sisirda’s home (08-11-2015) (Photo: Com. Mihir Dasgupta)
Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee has completed 95 years by June 2015. He is the senior most leader of the Central Government employees’ movement and especially that of P and T. Sisir Da, as he is respectfully called, is an inspiration for a whole generation of workers. His life is part of the history of the trade union movement in W.Bengal. Telecom Factory workers worship him as their saviour. He is still active in the movement as the guide and philosopher. He was the first Patron of BSNL Employees Union, elected in its formation Conference at Visakhapatnam in March 2001. He now lives in a small house in the interior of Kolkata.
I along with Comrades Mihir Dasgupta, former AGS BSNLEU, Adhir Kumar Sen, Vice-President, BSNLEU, Animesh Mitra, then Dy. General Secretary and Circle Secretary BSNLEU, W.Bengal and Om Prakash Singh, former Circle Secretary, Telecom Factory visited Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee in his home in Kolkata on 06-07-2013,10-07-2013 and 08-11-2015 and discussed about his life, experiences and activities. Coms. A.K.Bhattacharjee, President AIBDPA and Saibal Sengupta, Circle Secretary BSNLEU, Kolkata Telephones also gave some inputs. The following are derived out of the talks with him. Though he was not able to recollect certain dates, he was very clear about the incidents.
Sisir Bhattacharjee was born on 2nd June 1920(He was not very sure about the date). His father was Shri Hemantha Bhattacharjee and mother, Smt. Hemantabala Bhattacharjee. He passed matriculation in 1936 though he was under aged for appearing the same and passed B.A. in 1940.
Sisir joined P and T Work Shop (later renamed as Telecom Factory), Kolkata as a daily rated ‘Sircar’ (clerk) in November 1941. His daily wage was Rs. 1.50. The pay scale was Rs. 33.00 – 120.00. The condition was ‘No Work – No Pay’. He was absorbed as a regular clerk in 1945 in a non-industrial post of Lower Division Clerk (LDC). Most of the workers were Industrial Workers who are under the Factory Act. Sisir Da retired from service in June 1978 as Lower Selection Grade (LSG) Clerk.
Young Sisir was much interested in sports. He was a sports organizer and a registered referee for basket ball and volley ball. He was considered as an expert referee with strict decisions. He acted as referee in the Volley Ball Match between India and USSR and was much commended for the same. Com. A.K.Bhattacharjee, told me that When the Vietnam Volley Ball team came for a tournament in Bombay, they proposed Com. Sisirda as umpire. The DG P&T consulted Sisirda on such matters.
It was the veteran P and T leader, Com. K.G.Bose, who inspired Sisir Bhattacharjee to become an active worker of the union. He took much interest in organizing the Industrial and Non-Industrial workers of the P and T Work Shop. At that time there was only one Telecom Factory in the whole of India, situated at Alipore, Calcutta. This was started in 1855 and was called as P and T Workshop and located at Calcutta, the capital of British India. The Jabalpur Telecom Factory was started at the time of II World War (1942-45), considering the danger of Calcutta being attacked by Japan. Other five Telecom Factories at Bombay, Richai, Bhilai, Gopalpur and Kharagpur were started later consequent to the vast expansion of telecommunication sector and requirement.
The Festival Advance Movement
In 1955, for the first time, the Great Eastern Penisular Railways with head quarters at Calcutta, granted Festival Advance of Rs. 50 and Rs. 30 respectively for the Class III and Class IV employees to celebrate Durga Puja Festival. Mr. Cornellious, who was the General Manager of TF Alipore, also sanctioned Rs. 50 as Festival Advance to the Industrial Workers. Non-Industrial Workers in the same factory who were denied the same were very much angry at the discrimination. As the demand for the allowance to non-industrial workers was denied by General Manager, continued dharna was organized at the TF premises. But still, the GM did not agree to grant advance.
The issue was brought to the notice of Com.K.G.Bose, who already was an established leader of Calcutta. He asked Sisir Da, whether he can bring all the workers to the office of the Post Master General to agitate. (Both Postal and Telegraphs were under the PMG at that time.). Sisir Da agreed.
Next day, 19th October 1955, more than three thousand industrial and non-industrial workers of the TF under the leadership of Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee, marched in a procession through the city of Calcutta to the PMG Office. On the way, the employees of the DET’s Office also joined. Com. K.G.Bose, who was waiting at the PMG office was very happy to see the large number of workers marching as planned. On his call, all the employees of the PMG Office came out. They continued demonstration in front of the office demanding Puja Advance as given to Industrial workers.
Thousands of workers entered the office and the leaders went inside PMG’s room. PMG was not at all prepared to agree to the demand for Puja Advance. The demonstration continued till evening. Before dispersing Com. K.G.Bose, standing in front of PMG addressed the workers and warned the PMG that if the demand is not conceded, more workers will come next day and continue the agitation.
Next day, by about 10.00 AM, PMG informed Com. KG that decision has been taken to grant Puja Advance of Rs. 50 and Rs. 30 respectively to class III and Class IV employees and that the amount will be recovered in six installments. The pay scale of Group D was starting from Rs. 30 and that of class III from Rs. 40.
This was a great victory for the P and T Employees and their movement. Gradually, the Festival Advance was granted to all employees in the P and T Department.
1946 Postmen Strike
The call for the strike was given by the Postmen Union led by Com.V.G.Dalvi, General Secretary. Com.K.G.Bose and telecom workers were in Indian Posts and Telegraph Union. Though requested by KG and other Bengal leaders, Dr. Nohrona, who was the General Secretary, refused to give call for strike. Hence KG and other leaders in IPTU resigned and participated in the strike. From the day he joined in the DET(O) Calcutta, KG Bose was in the thick of union life. Sisirda took keen interest for the success of the strike.
Formation of UPTW
After the 1946 Postal Strike and the evidence before the First Pay Commission, there was a feeling among the unions that they should co-ordinate and if possible, merge. Almost all the unions like Indian Telegraph Association and All India Postal Employees Union were agreeable, but Postmen Union Conference did not agree, despite persuasion by its General Secretary, Com.Dalvi. Almost all other unions together formed “Union of P and T Workers” (UPTW) in 1948. In Bengal, KG Bose and Sisir Bhattacharjee made firm efforts for the formation of UPTW.
Formation of NFPTE
Shri Jagjivan Ram, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs proposed amalgamation of all the existing unions in P and T including Postmen union in to one Federation. There was doubt among the unions, whether to accept the proposals or not? Whether militancy of the unions will be lost? So, many meetings took place in Delhi and other centres before taking any decision. Sisirda attended the discussions at Calcutta. Com. Jyoti Basu, who was then leader of Railway Unions, used to attend these meetings. Com.B.N.Ghosh, called “Dada Ghosh” also came to Calcutta to attend these meetings. Com.B.N.Ghosh was also called the “Lion of Bengal”. A stenographer will be with him to record the discussions.
At last all the unions agreed and the National Federation of P and T Employees (NFPTE) was formed with 9 affiliated All India unions on 24th November 1954. Dada Ghosh was elected as the first Secretary General of NFPTE. KG, Sisirda and other leaders were in the forefront to strengthen the new organisation.
Five Days Glorious Strike of 1960
Five days historic strike of central Government employees took place from 11th July 1960. Bengal unit fully participated in the strike and many were victimized. Com. Ajoy Das was President and Sisirda Joint Secretary of Bengal unit at that time. Sisirda was removed from service for leading the strike, but was reinstated later.
1968 One Day Token Strike
One Day Token Strike on 19th September 1968 of the Central Govt. Employees was also a big success in Bengal. There was brutal victimization. Sisirda was arrested, detained and suspended. Rule 14 charge sheet was also issued. P.K.Das, Manager of the Telecom Factory at that time opposed the arrest of Sisirda stating that he is of course the leader of the strike, but a leader leading the workers for greater production.
Sisir Bhattacharjee functioned as the Secretary of the Sports Control Board. The All India P & T Meet was conducted at South Calcutta Stadium after the 1968 strike. The athletes during the march past protested against the victimization of the striking workers.
Gauhati All India Conference July 1970
The All India Conference of AITEE Union Class III (E.III Union) held at Gauhati in July 1970 saw crucial debate on the policies of the union. The pro-government policy of O.P.Gupta, General Secretary was severely criticised. Probably, for the first time, contest took place in the E.III Union against OPG. Election took place between the OPG panel and KG Bose group. Sisir Bhattacharjee was the comrade selected to contest against OPG for General Secretary’s post and though defeated, he got 42% votes, which was a surprise to all. It, in fact, shocked the OPG group.
1974 CG Employees Strike.
Since the Confederation and NFPTE were divided, the strike was partial, though in Railways it was total. Sisirda was in the forefront of the struggle. Sisirda participated in the historic 1976 Federal Council of NFPTE where unity was restored.
P and T Industrial Workers Federation.
Sisir Bhattacharjee was the unquestioned leader and General Secretary of the P&T Industrial Workers Federation, which included the industrial workers of the 7 telecom factories and the telecom stores organization. There were thousands of workers in the union. It’s All India Conferences were usually held at the time of the AIC of the E.III Union. He was the Vice-President of E.III Union for a long period. P&T Industrial Workers Federation was one of the organizations which merged to form BSNL Employees Union in 2001. Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee was elected as Patron of BSNLEU. .
Co-Ordination Committee of Canteen Employees Unions
Sisirda took initiative in forming the Co-ordination Committee of Canteen Employees of all the CG Departments including Railways, P and T, Income Tax, AIR etc. It was a big movement. Com.Basudeb Acharia, long time MP, inaugurated it. He was elected as its President. Due to sustained agitation, all the canteens were departmentalized, with option to departmental posts. They were organized during 1980s, after retirement of Sisirda.
Suicide of Dada Ghosh, Founder SG, NFPTE
The suicide by Dada Ghosh in 1960 in a Calcutta hotel was a great shock to all. He had returned to Calcutta from Delhi after relinquishing the post of Secretary General, NFPTE. Although reasons are not known, it was believed that both family as also organizational issues were behind the same.
Sisir Da explained with pain about the last days of Dada Ghosh, the great leader of the P&T movement, the founder Secretary General of NFPTE. He was staying alone in a Calcutta Hotel.
The Senior most leader of CG Employees movement
Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee is the senior most leader of the Central Government / BSNL Employees movement. Though 95, he still attends the important meetings of BSNLEU, Pesnioners’ organizations. His presence is assured in all the meetings at Telecom Factory. He was the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the NCCPA Conference held in Kolkata in 2015. Whenever I visit Kolkata, I try to meet the guide and veteran leader and seek his advice on many matters.
Before concluding, I would like to quote a portion of the letter Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee, dated 8th May 2010, sent to me as the General Secretary of the BSNLEU expressing his inability to attend the All India Conference at Thiruvananthapuram held from 12th to 15th May 2010.
“Comrade, I would have very much liked to be amongst you in this historic Conference, but I regret very much to intimate that due to health reasons, I will be missing the opportunity. However, I would like to convey my Fraternal Greetings to the thousands of delegates & observers who will be assembled in the Conference from all corners of the country. ………”
“I earnestly wish the Conference an all round success and I have full faith that the 5th All India Conference at Trivandrum will remain as a major mile stone in the history of the BSNL Employees Union.”
“On this august occasion, I congratulate your Central Working Committee for taking the decision about purchasing a spacious building at New Delhi for housing the central union. This has been a decision in the right direction and I would like to make a humble contribution of Rs. 250/- herewith towards the building fund which may kindly be accepted and acknowledged. I would like to suggest that the proposed union building be named as “K.G.Bose Bhawan”, New Delhi to commemorate the loving memory of our beloved departed leader who was loved and respected by all sections of Telecom employees all over the country. I am sure my suggestion will be given a serious and earnest consideration by the All India Conference / Central Working Committee of your union.
With Revolutionary Greetings,
(sd)/- Sisir Bhattacharjee, Ex-Patron, Central Union.”
Of course, the union accepted the correct guidance of Sisirda and named the Union house as “K.G.Bose Bhawan”.
His wife, Smt. Nilima Bhattacharjee, died on 11-09-2015. She was 85. She retired from Telecom Factory, Alipore as S.S. in 1988. She was also a leader of NFPTE.
Let us hope that Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee will continue to guide us for a long time to come.
NJCA DECIDED INDEFINITE STRIKE FROM 11th APRIL 2016
Meeting of the National Joint Council of Action (Railways, Defence, Postal, Confederation) held on 08th February 2016 at New Delhi has unanimously decided to serve indefinite strike notice on 11th March 2016 and to commence indefinite strike from 11th April 2016. The demands of the strike is also finalised.
It is informed that the Heads of Circle Conference of BSNL will be held at Delhi on 10th and 11th of February 2016. The subjects to be discussed are not known, but the Revival of BSNL will be one, certainly.
I would suggest that the following also be discussed, which have got crucial connection with the growth of the PSU.
- A consensus among the top managers of the company, who are mostly ITS officers, should be arrived at that all the officers working in BSNL should belong to BSNL. This is necessary for the growth of the company. As shares are allotted to the top managers of private companies and corporate to ensure that their future is connected with the company in which they work, in the same way the future of the officers working in BSNL should be connected with its growth. This is not only a business proposition, but also is a point of ethics.
- Fresh blood is essential for the growth of any institution. Almost 1.5 lakh workers have retired after formation of BSNL with only recruitment of about 30,000, reducing the staff by about 1.2 lakh from the 3.5 lakhs. Additional recruitment is to be done, both at lower and higher levels.
- About one lakh casual contract workers are engaged by BSNL through contractors. Though clear Acts and Rules exist with regard to their wages, social security measures like EPF, ESI etc. these are violated in most of the circles, with the full knowledge of the concerned field officers. Even the directions and orders of the government and CMD BSNL are not implemented continuing one of the worst exploitation of the toiling workers in the country. Supporting the contractors for this brutal exploitation or becoming part of this exploitation shows the low morality and ethics to which some of the field officers have fallen. Before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, before the Chief Labour Commissioner, before the EPF and ESI Commissioners – BSNL Management is exposed as utterly failing in their duties to uphold the law of the land, human touch and ethics. BSNL should come out from the label of this utter shame and brutal exploitation.
- Although it has been accepted that all the officers from the CMD to the RM should meet the customers at various levels and make connection, it is rarely put in to action. Each one has got the responsibility in this prgramme. Effective mechanism should be available to ensure that this connectivity is activated.
These are a few points which will energitise strengthening of BSNL and its services. Let the top management discuss these issues and take suitable decisions.