The AIC of BSNLEU is being held in the Kolkata Alipore Telecom Factory premises. This factory is the first Telecom Factory in India. It was started in 1855 to repair the telegraph equipment and was called P and T Workshop. The Telegraph Services started in India in 1851 and consequently the P and T Workshop also started for manufacture of telegraph equipment. After the telephones services started, telephone equipment were also produced.
The second Factory was started in the 1940s when the II World War started and there was a possibility that Calcutta will be attacked by the Japanese. So,a portion of the Alipore factory was shifted to Jabalpore, in the centre of the country. Later, TFs were started at Bombay, Gopalpur, Kharagpur, Bhilai and Richai. But the mother of all TFs is still Alipore Factory.
There are industrial and Non-industrial workers in Telecom Factories. The manufacturing workers are industrial, the clerical etc. are non-industrial. The industrial workers were more and in all factories, there were about 2000- 3000 industrial workers. In addition, there were a large number of Industrial workers in the Telecom Stores, Calcutta. Due to non-recruitment for years together, the number of workers have been reduced drastically.
A separate union existed called P and T Industrial Workers Union for the industrial workers in these TFs. At the time of the All India Conference of the AITEU Class III, the AIC of the TF also will be held.Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee, the veteran leader of the P and T workers and the first Patron of BSNLEU, was the General Secretary of the P and T Industrial Workers Union, till it merged with BSNLEU.
For the workers in Telecom Factories, there are three Circle unions viz. Kolkata, Jabalpur and Mumbai. In addition, there is a circle for telecom Stores.
The workers of TF Calcutta has a great tradition of struggle. As narrated by Com. Sisir Bhattachajee to me on an earlier occasion, it was the thousands of TF workers who marched to the PMG Office Calcutta in the 1950s and compelled the British Government to grant the Festival Allowance for the P and T Employees as in the case of Railway Employees. It was under the leadership of Com.K.G.Bose and Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee, this struggle was organised. Com. K.G. Bose is no more, but Com. Sisir Bhattacharjee is still with us and is the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the AIC. We all will be getting a chance to meet him and hear his speech in the AIC.
Thus it is at this great heritage of Trade Union history that thousands of telecom workers are meeting in the VII AIC of BSNL Employees Union.