Cabinet considers Outright Sale of Air India

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Modi government is on the move to outright privatise Air India, the prestigious PSU airline  of India. Air India has been on obstacle for the private airlines to increase the charges. Further they want to take over the domestic and foreign routes now being run by Air India.

There are three proposals before the Cabinet; outright sale, disinvestment of 76% and 49%. Whatever is the decision, the PSU will be in the hands of the private company.

We express our strong protest against the anti-PSU, anti-people move!

WFTU NEWS

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The WFTU is participating in the two-day anti-imperialist initiative of PAME under the slogan: “With the workers of all countries for a world without exploitation, wars, refugees.”
25 Jun 2017EUROPE, GREECE, PAME
The WFTU participated in the great manifestation of PAME, Greece that took place yesterday, on 24th of June 2017 in Thessaloniki, in the framework of the two-day anti-imperialist initiative of PAME under the slogan: “With the workers of all countries for a world without exploitation, wars, refugees.”

Today, on the 25th of June, the initiative continues with an international Trade Union Meeting where trade unions from the Balkan and the Mediterranean region are taking part.

The WFTU General Secretary, George Mavrikos, greeted yesterday’s great rally.

The President of the Trade Union Organization”SLOGA”, Serbia, Zeljiko Veselinovic, delivered a speech on the behalf of the foreign trade unionists’ delegation.Earlier, WFTU Vice-president Valentin Pacho Quispe laid a wreath on behalf of WFTU at the monument of the Worker, honoring the workers of Thessaloniki and their great history and struggles.

There will be tough fight in President’s election – CPI

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Hyderabad, Jun 26: A top Left leader today said that Meira Kumar would give a “tough fight” in the Presidential elections, and the Opposition parties would try to reach out to NDA allies to back their joint candidate.
“It’s not a symbolic fight, it will be a good, tough fight,” General Secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI), Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy told PTI.
Of the 10,98,903 votes of the electoral college, “We have already talked to 3.5 lakh to four lakh votes. Political parties’ mandate (they cannot issue whip) will not be available. Let’s see, what will happen,” he said.
“Some of the NDA allies may also vote for us. It will be a tough fight,” Reddy said, adding, the opposition parties would “certainly” try to reach out to NDA allies to support Meira Kumar.
He termed as “unfortunate” Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to back the NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
“State (Bihar) politics might have created such a problem, and we have no idea exactly what’s the reason for this sudden right-about-turn. Anyway, it’s an unfortunate type of development for opposition parties,” Reddy said.

The presidential election is scheduled for July 17 and the counting of votes will take place on July 20.
Kovind filed his nomination in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on June 23. (Courtesy: PTI)

Banks have no responsibility for valuables in lockers? Exposure through RTI

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I am herewith giving below a press report released by PTI on the above subject. Is there no security for the valuables placed in the bank lockers? This is atrocious.

New Delhi, Jun 25 : Do not expect any compensation for theft or burglary of valuables in safe deposit boxes of public sector banks as the locker hiring agreement absolves them of all liability.
This bitter truth was disclosed in an RTI response by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and 19 PSU banks.
Stung by the revelation, the lawyer who had sought information under the transparency law has now moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI) alleging “cartelisation” and “anti-competitive practices” by the banks in respect of the locker service.
He has informed the CCI that the RTI response from the RBI has said it has not issued any specific direction in this regard or prescribed any parameters to assess the loss suffered by a customer.
Even under the RTI response, all public sectors banks have washed their hands of any responsibility.
According to the information availed by the lawyer, the unanimous reason given by the 19 banks, including Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Punjab National Bank, UCO and Canara, among others, is that “the relationship they have with customers with regard to lockers is that of lessee (landlord) and lessor (tenant)”.
The banks have contended that in such a relationship, the lessor is responsible for his or her valuables kept in the locker which is owned by the bank.
Some banks, in their locker hiring agreements, have made it clear that any item stored in the locker is at the customer’s own risk and he or she may, in their own interest, insure the valuables.
The common feature of all locker hiring agreements states, “As per safe deposit memorandum of hiring locker, the bank will not be responsible for any loss or damage of the contents kept in the safe deposit vault as a result of any act of war or civil disorder or theft or burglary and the contents will be kept by the hirer at his or her sole risk and responsibility.
“While the bank will exercise all such normal precautions, it does not accept any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage whatsoever sustained to items deposited with it. Accordingly, hirers are advised in their own interest to insure any item of value deposited in a safe deposit locker in the bank,” they have said.
Aggrieved by the responses, the lawyer — Kush Kalra — raised questions before the CCI — why not just keep the valuables at home after insuring them, instead of paying rent to the bank for a locker when it is not going to take any responsibility for the contents.
He alleged that all these banks, also including State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Syndicate Bank, Allahabad Bank and others, have formed a “cartel” to indulge in such “anti-competitive” practices.
He further alleged that the bank by forming an association or cartel are “trying to limit the improvement of services which is directly affecting the competition in the market and interests of the consumer”.
The lawyer has sought a probe under the Competition Act into the allegation of cartelisation by the banks in respect of the locker service.

All India Women’s Convention (BSNLEU) at Hyderabad

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The decision of BSNLEU to hold an All India Women’s Convention on 8th July 2017 at Hyderabad is to be appreciated. Telecom  / BSNL have a large number of women employees. Being an operational service functioning through out 24 hours, women have their own special problems.  Women comrades are very active in the organisation also. As such holding an All India Convention and forming a Women’s Committee will help the services, women themselves  and also the organisation.

In this connection, I remember the holding of the first Women’s Convention in Kerala  organised by the then E.III Union, Kerala Circle. The decision was taken in the Circle Conference held at calicut where a Mahila Session was organised. The Mahila Convention  was held at Trichur on 28th October 1978. I was the Circle Secretary. When the proposal to hold the Mahila Convention was presented, many comrades felt that the participation will be very less and hence it was decided that at least two comrades from each division should participate. But what happened was a surprise.  About 500 women comrades participated. The discussion was lively and the major demands of the women workers were identified and put in the form of a Charter. A Mahila Committee was also formed. Com.Suseela Gopalan, CPI(M) leader and M.P., Com.Rosamma Punnose, N.P.Padmanabhan, Convener of P&T Co-ordinating Committee, D.R.Mahajan, CGM and others participated.  ( for further details, please read ‘ P&T TU Movement in Kerala by Com. P.V.Chandrasekharan).

The Mahila Committee met the Chief General Manager and presented the Charter of Demands and explained the demands. Most of the demands were agreed to by the CGM. Convenient dormitories, Creches, Rest room for ladies and other arrangements were made in almost all the exchanges and offices as per the demand.

The Mahila Committe still functions effectively in Kerala circle. Such committees function in some other circles also. But it is for the first time that a special meeting of the women is being organised at All India level  with the intention of forming an All India Mahila Committee. This is welcome decision and will help in organising the women and taking up their problems.

Merger of Vijaya, Dena Banks with Canara Bank

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‘Merger’ has become the most important word in the banking sector. It is only a few weeks back that the 5 associated banks and the Mahila Bank were merged with SBI, despite strong protests from the employees and their unions.

Now it is the turn of other PSU Banks. Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank is being merged with Canara Bank. The government says that mergers are necessary for creating big banks. Whether such merger will benefit the customers and workers?

 

1975 National Emergency remembered

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A meeting was held on 25th June 2017 at Keluettan Study and Research Centre Kozhikode on the 42nd year of declaration of the hated ‘National Emergency’. The meeting was presided by Ciom.K.T.Kunhikannan, Director of the Study centre. Com. P.Mohanan Master, Dist. Secretary, CPI(M), inaugurated the meeting and spoke about the attack on the democracy, opposition leaders and parties  during emergency. He also spoke about the present situation, when an undeclared emergency is being implemented with attack on the people, working class etc. Coms. V.A.N.Namboodiri, Adv. K.Jayarajan, K.K.C.Pillai and others addressed.  All spoke about the experiences of the dark emergency period and the present situation and called upon the people to be ready to face the onslaughts of the ruling class headed by the RSS and Sangh Parivar and fight against the same.

Reinstatement of an ‘Emergency Prisoner’

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The ‘National Emergency’ promulgated on 25/26th June 1975 by the President of India on the advice of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was withdrawn on 21st March 1977, immediately after the utter defeat of Indira Gandhi and Congress in the general elections held in March 1977. The Janata government was formed, by all the opposition parties, who jointly fought against the Congress. This was the first non-Congress government after  Independence in 1947. The jailed politicians, trade unions leaders, activists were released from the jail by the new government.

In Calicut, the  two telecom employees who were in jail, Coms. V.A.Ouseph and Sathyanathan were also released and joined duty. But the latter comrade had a grievance. He was a new recruit and while he was in jail, he got a job in Indian Bank for which he had applied, but could not join and lost it.

We felt that it is necessary that the injustice should be removed and he should get the job in the Indian Bank. As the Secretary of the union, I had to take the responsibility for the same.  Within days I went to New Delhi by train.

First I went to the Janatha Party Office, which was situated in a big bungalow allotted to  Parliament members. The compound was full of hundreds of people who had come from far and near to meet their leaders. Most were from the Hindi belt, especially, UP, Bihar, M.P. etc. Tea, sweets and snacks were being freely supplied to all. Everybody was in joyful mood and celebrating the victory. I could see Ministers Raj Narain, a hero of the Emergency and some other ministers. I went and met the Secretary of the Janatha Party, who was from Kerala and requested to help me in getting the bank job to Sathyanathan. I had with me a letter addressed to Finance minister in this respect. He went through the letter and without any delay noted something on the representation and told me to go and meet the Finance Minister. Immediately I went to the office of the Finance Minister  in the North Block and went directly to the Minister’s room. There was no security any where and people were moving unobstructed. It was just like  another Independence. Finance Minister Shri H.M.Patel was coming out of his office. I spoke and gave the representation to him and told the matter in brief. He immediately signed in the representation and told me to meet the Secretary Finance. The office of the Finance Secretary was nearby. I went and met the Finance Secretary, who went through the letter and signed it telling me to meet the Joint Secretary Finance, Banking and guided me that the office is in the 5th/6th floor of the LIC Building opposite to Dak Bhawan. I went there and met the Joint Secretary and gave the letter and told what the Finance Secretary told. He went through the letter and asked me about the details of the case.

After noting down something on the representation, he telephoned the Managing Director of the Indian Bank in Madras  and told him to issue immediate orders appointing Shri Sathyanathan to the job in the bank. He also told ” Mr. Namboodiri is sitting in front of me. Before he reaches Calicut, the order should reach there.” I thanked him profusely and returned with satisfaction.

I immediately phoned our comrades at Calicut and told what happened. Within two hours I could meet the secretary Janatha Party, Finance Minister, Finance Secretary, Joint Secretary and get results. The post-emergency situation was such that each and every emergency excess has to be settled immediately.

As assured by the Joint Secretary Banking, before I reached calicut after two-three days rail journey, the order was received by Sathyanathan and he joined the Indian Bank  at Madras, if I remember correct. I was told later that he got promoted to higher posts. retired.

I still feel it as a miracle, something beyond usual. Of course, as I said, it was post-emergency and everything was possible without bureaucratic intervention and security concerns.

The Dark National Emergency of 1975 – 77

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The new generation born during the last four / five decades did not have the direct bitter experience of the Draconian Emergency declared by the Indira Gandhi Government on 25th/ 26th June 1975. It is 42 years since the Emergency was declared.

The Indira Gandhi Government was under attack for its anti-people measures. The brutal suppression of the 22 days Railway strike in 1974 was an indication of what was to come. In between, the Allahabad High Court cancelled the election of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Parliament. And on another side, Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement started which grew in to an avalanche churning the entire country. Indira Gandhi did not see any way to meet this challenge and declared National Emergency in the midnight of 25th/26th June 1975, arresting all opposition leaders, trade union functionaries and others who were opposing the congress regime. CPI(M), BJP and all other oppositions were the main targets.

The emergency prohibited and suppressed all kinds of protests and democratic rights of the people. The newspapers were gagged. Without screening by the government censors, no paper could be published. Meetings, demonstrations – all were prohibited.

I was in the train along with a few other comrades going to Delhi from Kerala to attend a Convention of the Central Government Employees and Workers to chalk out agitation programmes on the urgent demands of the workers. On alighting at New Delhi Railway Station,  we found that there were a large number of police personnel. There was complete silence and people spoke in hushed voices only. Some comrades from Delhi came to us and told that National Emergency has been declared by the Government and it is not safe to stay where our accommodation was arranged. We were taken to the residence of comrade Jyothirmoy Basu, CPI(M) leader and Member of Parliament. He had already gone underground to escape arrest. After reaching there, our comrades told about the explosive situation under the draconian emergency. We were told not to go outside, to avoid arrest.

However,  I went to No.4, Ashoka Road,which was the bungalow allotted to Comrade A.K.Gopalan, M.P. I met Comrade Narikutty Mohanan there, who was the Delhi correspondent of Deshabhimani, the CPI(M) daily being published from Kerala. Incidentally at that time a call came from Ernakulam Telephone Exchange.There were no mobile phones at that time.Even STD was not available.Every trunk call was to be connected through Telephone Exchange only. It was fortunate that Comrade K.Prabhakaran, well known P and T leader called at that time. Since all press news were completely barred and communications through telephones and fax were all censured, there was no opportunity for Narikutty to give the latest report to the Deshabhimani in Kerala. When Prabhakaran contacted I asked him to connect Deshabhimani and Narikkutty gave detailed report about the declaration of emergency, the list of the arrested leaders and other information. And in the next day in Deshabhimani, all the news came with photoes of the arrested leaders and a strong statement of leaders condemning Emergency. I was told later that Com. Narikkutty was taken in to custody and questioned, but the police could not find how the news reached Ernakulam Deshabhimani, because there were no records of fax, trunk call etc.

Next day, I walked through Rafi Marg on the side of which is the Mavlankar Auditorium where the CGE convention was to be held. The entire area was cordoned and a large number of police were there.The convention was already banned and the leaders were compelled to cancel it. So the first taste of emergency for me was in Delhi only.

Later, so many leaders of CGE movement were arrested and put in jail till the end of emergency. Com. Prabhakaran was one among them. I was taken in to custody twice during the emergency and questioned a whole night, but was later released. The period of Emergency were black days for the entire country. No criticism of the government or the ruling party was allowed. It was a reign of terror. ‘India is Indira’ became the slogan of the sycophants. People were arrested and jailed without any reason. It was dictatorship. But resistance continued inside and outside.

During Emergency period, myself as Circle President and  Com.T.V.Joseph as Circle Secretary of NFPTE E.III Union, went and met Kerala Chief Minister Shri C.Achutha Menon and requested for grand of parole to Com. V.A.Ouseph, NFPTE leader at Calicut, who was in jail, to attend to his sick mother. CM stated that he has no power in the matter and every thing was decided by the Home Minister Shri K.Karunakaran only. We met Sri Karunakaran. When we introduced as representatives of the telecom Union, he became irritated. He cited an incident when a telephone operator refused to extend a trunk call he made to Smt. Indira Gandhi for more than six minutes. He told that ‘where I a Minister at that time, he would have been put in jail immediately.’ He also told that ‘all you union people are to be put in jail.’ We kept smiling, because we were interested in getting bail for Com. Ouseph. Fortunately he was given the parole as requested.

By 1977, Indira Gandhi felt that the situation is under control and election can be held. But her calculation failed. In the 1977 General Elections, Congress was routed out. For the first time in India, a non-congress government came in to power consisting of almost all opposition parties which won with thumbing majority. The Shah Commission which was appointed to enquire in to the Emergency excesses gave a true picture of what the nation and the people suffered during the Emergency.  (In the Shah Commission report on Emergency excess, it has been stated that Kerala Government has given parole to the emergency prisoners and cited the case of Com. Ouseph, stating that he was given parole twice. Hundreds of arrested persons were not granted parole even once.)

No Indian wants a recurrence of that draconian Emergency. But what happens at present gives a resemblance to the pre-Emergency days. RSS and Sangh Parivar with the full support of the government attacks the rights of the people to eat what they want, how to dress, whom to love, what to study etc. etc. The trend is similar to what happened in the early days of the Nazi rule under Adolph Hitler. Trade union rights are curtailed; Achieved benefits are taken away. Public Sector Units are sold for a song. Minorities are attacked under the open eyes of the authorities. Moves are afoot for the creation of a rightist Hindu Rashtra. The secular fabric of the nation is being torn and the dark forces are  creating communal tensions.

The National Emergency of  1975-77 and its brutal suppression of people and their rights have not been forgotten. Nobody wants another or similar Emergency and attack on the people. Dark clouds are hovering over the sky. It is only through the determined mighty united struggle of the people that the recurrence of another Emergency can be avoided.

We learn from the past to defend our future! NO to another Emergency!

Senior leader Com. D.Nagamanyam passed away

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With deep sorrow and sadness it is intimated that Comrade D.Nagamanyam, one of the senior leaders of the P and T Trade union movement, passed away at Hyderabad at 11.20 hours today, 24th June 2017.He was admitted to the hospital about one week back. Com. Nagamanyam was ailing for some time. He was 72.

Com. Nagamanyam was one of the leaders, who along with Com.M.N.Reddy, P.Asokababu, J.Sampat Rao and others built up a strong union, both E.III and BSNLEU in A.P.Circle and especially Hyderabad. He played a very important role in the 1991 Bhopal AIC, as Polling Officer, in conducting the elections in a fair and democratic way, which ensured the election of the progressives headed by Coms. Moni Bose and V.A.N.Namboodiri. He organised the Line Staff Union and also BSNLEU. He was a dedicated leader, who had to face severe victimisation from the government and the management. His simple way of living, intimacy with the workers, ever-readiness to attend to the problems of the workers – all made him very dear to the movement and the grass root workers.

When I last met him at a meeting at Hyderabad, which he attended despite physical hardship, I never knew that it will be meeting him for the last. We exchanged pleasantries and enquired about health, family etc. We also remembered the many times, when we attended meetings in Hyderabad and nearby places under very hard and difficult times building up the organisation.

In his death, BSNLEU, BSNLCCWF and AIBDPA has lost a valiant fighter and leader. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, friends and comrades!