Non-payment of wages to contract workers

Almost one lakh contract workers engaged in BSNL have not received wages for three months. Their families are starving. Fast Dharna was organised on 13th March at Delhi Corporate office. Although salary for February was paid to regular employees by 15th March, the wages of the workers are yet to be paid.
We demand the BSNL management to allot funds to the CGMs for making payment of wages to contract workers.

Demonetisation to white wash black money – CPI(M)

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury Friday said demonetisation was to “whitewash” black money, amidst reports that the current cash in circulation has jumped by more than 19 per cent from the pre-note ban days.

Media reports have indicated that the cash in circulation has jumped by 19.14 per cent to Rs 21.41 lakh crore as on March 15 this year from the pre-demonetisation level of Rs 17.97 lakh crore on November 4, 2016.

“Demonetisation by Modi on a whim, against all advice from RBI, was a way to whitewash black money. We know how jobs and lives were destroyed by notebandi. Now claims like ‘cashless’ economy also have turned out to be false and misleading Jumlas. #DemonetisationDisaster,” Yechury tweeted. (Courtesy: Ganashakti)

BSNL adds 9.82 lakh customers in January 2019.

As per TRAI report, Reliance Jio has added 93 lakh new mobile customers in January, 2019. BSNL has added 9.82 lakh customers and Airtel has added 1 lakh new customers. The country’s biggest telecom operator, Vodafone Idea, has lost 35.8 lakh customers and MTNL has lost 4,927 customers. It is a great achievement that BSNL is performing better than private giants Vodafone Idea and Airtel, and that too without 4G. (BSNLEU Website)

Com. AKG remembered on his 42nd death anniversary

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22nd March 2019, is the 42nd death anniversary of Comrade A.K.Gopalan, veteran working class leader, PBM, CPI(M) and the first opposition group leader in the Indian Parliament. He died on 22nd March 1977 after a long illness.

Com. AKG, as he is popularly called was an indomitable fighter of the working class and toiling masses. His entire life was full of struggles for the downtrodden people. He was arrested and put in jail many times both by the British as well as the Indian rulers. Com.AKG who was in the forefront of the Independence struggle was in jail even on 15th August 1947, on the day India got Independence, even though almost all the freedom fighters who were in jail were released.

Comrade AKG could not tolerate injustice. Wherever injustice was being done he jumped in to the struggle against the onslaught. There are any number of such struggles which AKG led and succeeded. It was the three great leaders, Coms. P.Krishna Pillai, E.M.S.Namboodiripad and AKG who built and strengthened the Communist Party in Kerala.

I had the opportunity to meet Comrade AKG several times and seek his guidance. During many of his visits to Calicut along with his wife, Com. Susheela Gopalan, who herself was a senior leader, Member of Parliament and later Minister in Kerala, I had the fortune to receive them at the Railway Station and to bring them to the house where they were to stay. One such time, AKG was ill and for many weeks he was not able to speak due to illness. Myself along with Com. M.Balasubramanian, the Dist. Secretary E.III Union,  went to the Railway station and took him to the house of Advocate P.K.Kunhirama Poduval where they used to stay. After reaching Calicut, two senior doctors, Dr.CBC Warrier and Dr. N.S.Venugopalan checked him and stated that he was better. In fact AKG was able to speak bit by bit. That day the Confederation of Central Government Employees, of which I was the convener, had arranged a meeting in the Mudalakkulam maidan in connection with an All India strike next day. I very meekly asked the doctors whether I can request AKG to address the strike meeting. AKG immediately agreed and the doctors consented provided he would not speak more than five minutes. AKG agreed to the condition and it was decided that he will address the meeting.

The news that Com.AKG will address the meeting in the evening of the day spread like wildfire. Irrespective of party affiliation, people in thousands gathered at the maidan to hear Com.AKG, his first speech after several weeks. The meeting started in time and after welcome etc. Com.AKG was requested to address. He started speaking and the audience sat in pin-drop silence to hear their beloved leader. The stipulated period of five minutes was over, but he continued speaking. Then Com.Suseela Gopalan, who was also on the stage, reminded him the doctors’ advice. He laughed away the request, openly telling the public that he knew when to stop. All were very much worried. Then Com. M.K.Kelu (Keluettan), one of the senior most leader of the CPI(M) who was also present, openly requested him to stop his speech considering his health. The audience also in one voice supported the request. Then and then only, AKG stopped his speech, thanked all and sat down. Such was his love for the people who even in the face of severe illness could not stop interacting with them.

I remember another incident which again shows the tenacity of Com. AKG in fighting against all attacks on the working class. It was during the 1974 Railway Strike demanding Bonus. The strike was to start from 8th May but due to mass arrest of the leaders and workers and victimisation, it started two days earlier. The Central government met the strike with utmost cruelty and vengeance. Tens of thousands of workers were arrested and jailed. Railway Quarters were searched and even the family members were beaten and harassed not finding the striking workers. In many quarters, water connection, electricity connection etc. were cut. In Calicut, the procession organized in support of the strike was attacked and people beaten and two news paper reporters also badly beaten and hospitalised. It was terror unleashed for the railway workers and their families.

It was at this time that Com. AKG along with Com. Suseela Gopalan arrived at Calicut. He was not at all well and the doctors advised complete rest. When I reported to him about the serious situation, he wanted to go to the railway quarters immediately. Though we tried to stop him going, he was adamant. We started for the Railway Colony. He stopped at the entry to the colony and told we will walk. Com.A.Kunhiraman Nair, veteran NGO Union leader and some other comrades also reached by the time. We were about 6-7 people and led by Coms AKG and Suseela we started slowly walking in to the colony through the small road. Women and children who alone were in the houses saw AKG and started joining us. Within a few minutes, it became a jatha and culminated in the school premises inside the colony. By the time, police also came to the spot. Party comrades also reached. A loudspeaker was brought and Com.AKG started speaking. The police, without knowing who it was speaking, came forward and threatened to arrest. AKG told him that ‘I am AKG and you can arrest me’. The poor policeman was dumbfounded and became silent. By that time senior police officers came and the situation became normal. AKG spoke consoling the families of Railwaymen and told that nothing will happen to them, and also warned the police officers that he will come and sit there in dharna if the harassment continues. Within a few minutes the meeting was over after Com. Suseela Gopalan also addressed.After this incident, there was a halt to the harassment of the families in the colony.

It was his forceful speech along with that of Comrade Nath Pai and other opposition leaders in the Parliament against the victimisation of Central Government employees who participated in the historic July 1960 strike that compelled the Jawaharlal Nehru government to take back all the thousands of workers who were dismissed or suspended.

Com.AKG was one of the senior CPI(M) leaders who was not arrested and jailed, being very sick. When he came to Calicut during the period myself and Com. N.Ramesh, then Divl. Secretary of E.III Union went to meet him. He was very tired and sick, but asked about the situation in Calicut. When coming back, he told us ” your job is not to get arrested, but to continue the resistance work against the Emergency and safeguard your workers.” Probably he might have been hinting at my being taken in to custody by Special Branch and questioned for hours a few days back.

He was sick and was under treatment for many months. During this period Com. T.K.Karunan, then leader of Kozhikode Municipal Corporation Workers , came to my rented line house near Sreekandeswarapuram and handed over a letter stating that he had gone to meet AKG at Alappuzha hearing that he was not well. He told that Com.AKG was always his beloved leader,despite that he is in CPI. The letter was in the handwriting of Com. Suseela and signed by AKG. I can not disclose the details, but whatever was required, it was done immediately.

Com. AKG died on 22nd March 1977. The Congress party was rooted out in the election, but probably he might not have known the same as he was in coma. The news of the death of the dear leader was a shock to all. His body was brought to his home place in Kannur District. Through out the way in all district headquarters, thousands of people came to pay homage to the departed leader.  The condolence meeting held at Kalliasseri was attended by more than ten thousands of people. Almost all the PB members were present except Com. Jyothi Basu. While speaking, Coms. E.K.Nayanar and Mrs. Kamalam continued by others broke in to tears and wept due to emotions and memories. Such was the close relation of Com. AKG to all whom he met.

All those who came in contact will have many such incidents to remember. He was very close to all and was loved by all.

I pay my respectful homage to the memory of this great revolutionary and working class leader on his 42nd death anniversary!

Reliance Jio is entrusted with the task of providing connectivity in airports throughout the country.

It is very unfortunate that the Reliance Jio is being given the status of Government Service Provider, while the Public Sector BSNL is being neglected. Already, the mobile / landline connections of the Indian Railways have gone to Reliance Jio. Now, the government has entrusted the job of providing MPLS–VPN and SD-VAN networks in all the airports, to Reliance Jio. If things go like this, days are not far away, when the entire telephone connections of the government will be taken from Reliance Jio. (BSNLEU Website)

BSNL and Jet Airways – two different approaches of the government.

Jet Airways, which was the biggest Indian airways company some time back, is in a deep financial crisis. It’s pilots have not been paid salary for the past 3 months. They have threatened to go on strike from 1st April, 2019, if the salary is not paid. Jet Airways is having a loan of one billion US dollars. The company is operating only 140 flights per week now, whereas, it was operating 600 flights per week, some time back. The important development that we should note on this issue is that, the government has conducted an emergency meeting yesterday to bail out Jet Airways. Today’s Economic Times (20.03.2019) has reported that the government is pressurising the banks to extend loans to Jet Airways. We appreciate the care that the government is taking for Jet Airways, which is a private company. But what about BSNL, which is the government’s own company? BSNL is crying and pleading to the government to permit it to take bank loans to overcome it’s financial crisis. But the Hon’ble Minister and the government are not coming to the rescue of BSNL. Whereas, in the case of Jet Airways, the government has conducted an emergency meeting and is pressurising the banks to extend loans to it. No more example is required to explain the government’s pro-private and anti-public sector policies. It is these policies which have ruined BSNL. Together with the AUAB, BSNLEU is continuously fighting against these anti-BSNL policies of the government. However, amongst us, we have some great brains, who are giving experts opinion that, we should not fight against the government.(Courtesy: BSNLEU website)

Sustained united struggle is the need of the hour to save BSNL and other PSUs.

BSNL officers, employees and casual contract workers are now facing an unprecedented attack on their jobs, wages and livelyhood. For the first time in its 18 years of existence the payment of salary for BSNL officers and employees were delayed by two weeks.Contract workers have not been paid wages for more than three months.
The workers under the leadership of All Unions Associations of BSNL (AUAB) as also BSNL Casual and Contract Workers Federation are on sustained struggle including strike to make the govt to settle their demands urgently. In the Charter of Demands, in addition to wage revision and pension revision, demands for the allotment of 4G spectrum, pensionary benefits of BSNL recruitees, DOT approval for taking loan, suggestions for improvement of BSNL services – all are there. Massive protest demonstrations, rallies, one Two Days Strike, another Three Days Strike – all have been successfully organised.

Some comrades feel that the leaders are responsible for the present complicated situation. But it is not a fact.These comrades are completely mistaken. Unfortunately many of them are not members of any union and have not participated in the struggle. Had they been union members and participants of these mighty struggles, they would have been fully convinced about the struggles undertaken and appreciated the leadership.

Who are then responsible for the present unenviable situation.It is neither the workforce nor their unions. It is the antiworker, anti- PSU policy of the ruling parties and governments headed by them. Public Sector Units were formed immediately after Independence to start infrastructure as also to develop industries in the various core sectors, which the Indian corporates were unable to do.The PSUs employed lakhs of workers, strengthened the finance of the country and gave valuable service to the people.

The situation completely changed by the end 1980s.The neo-liberal policy initiated in the 1900s were clearly intended to weaken the PSUs and allow corporates to take over.It was at this stage that telecommunication was opened up for private companies, BSNL and MTNL were denied mobile services etc.

BSNL was formed with the intention of closing or privatising it. The govt took many steps in this direction, but the united struggle under Forum, Joint Forum, AUAB etc defeated each of them. They could not implement one lakh VRS, disinvestment, unbundling of copper cables etc due to continued strugggle by workers. The govt is favouring private companies and grant them all cocessions. BSNL is continuously discriminated.

BSNL was having Rs.40,000 crore safely in PSU banks, Rs. 8000 to 12000 crore annual profit with good divident being paid to govt. Despite delay in getting mobile services it was reaching to first position, when the tender for 4 .5 crore mobile was cancelled by govt. One after another developments took place, the govt discriminating BSNL and favouring private companies. The latest open favouritism to Reliance Jio, going to the extend of Prime Minieter Modi’s photo used in Jio’s advertisement. Never the PM stood in sipport for BSNL.

All the telecom sector PSUs, ITI, Hindustan Cables, VSNL etc were either privatised, closed or made sick and the workers lost their jobs. 46% shares have been sold in MTNL. The workers in BSNL stood together, fought together and defeated the foul game of the govt .till now.

All the telecom companies are in huge loss dud to the predatory charges started by Reliance Jio, with the overt and covert support of Govt. The loss to the private companies like Idea,Vodafone, Airtel etc. are more than one lakh crore. The loss to Reliance Jio will be more than that, though it claim profit by manipulating accounts. BSNL in loss about Rs.13,000 crore which is less than others. Private companies are allowed to take huge loans from banks despite their loss, but BSNL is not allowed to take loan from banks for development as also for paying salary. Govt and DOT is creating such a situation to frighten the employees and compel them to take VRS and leave to trim the organisation for taking over by the private companies.

Wage revision and pension revision is not implemented on the plea that the company is in loss. Though govt was compelled to delink wage and pension revision, the pension revision as implemented in 2007 as per II PRC, is not implemented as per III PRC from 2017.( some confusion was created by some comrades demanding pension revision on CDA scales as per VII CPC which will have disastrous results). The NCCPA, AIBDPA, AUAB and most of the workers and pensioners organisations took the correct stand and organised strikes, Parliament March,Fast etc, the latest which was on 25th March participated by thoudands.

Elections are announced and it has been decided by these organisations to meet all the present MPs, MP candidates, Ministers, leaders of political parties etc demanding implementation of assurances given at the time of formation of BSNL by financially and otherwise supporting BSNL, implementing wage revision and pension revision without delay, pensionary benefits of new recruits, regularisation of casual labour, allotment of 4G Spectrum etc etc.The struggle will continue till success.

In the meantime some comrades, who are non-members and non-participants in the struggle started a whishpering campaign against the unions and their leaders, who have fought and won much for the workers and pensioners. We request these comrades to become members of unions and be participants in the long and hard battle to save BSNL, its workers, labours and pensioners.

Our struggle will continue. We are sure that we will succeed. No struggle has been in vain, though the result may not be there immediately. History has proved it.

STRUGGLE FOR UNITY, UNITY FOR STRUGGLE & UNITY AND STRUGGLE FOR PROGRESS!

State-owned telecom firm BSNL will approach National Company Law Tribunal this week to recover dues of about Rs 700 crore from Reliance Communications

State-owned telecom firm BSNL will approach National Company Law Tribunal this week to recover dues of about Rs 700 crore from Reliance Communications, according to official sources.

Earlier, debt-ridden RCom in its plea before the NCLAT said that it wants to voluntarily go back into the insolvency process, as it will help selling its assets in a time bound manner.

It had moved the appellate tribunal, seeking directions to the 37 lenders led by SBI to release Rs 260 crore directly to Ericsson. However, lenders of RCom have opposed the plea, saying that it will lead to outgo of public money for settling payment of a private party.

“BSNL has aready invoked bank guarantee of around Rs 100 crore submitted by RCom for default on payments. Decision was taken on January 4 by BSNL Chairman and Managing Director AnupamShrivastava to start legal proceedings against RCom for recovery of dues of around Rs 700 crore,” the sources said.

BSNL has roped Singh and Kohli law firm for the suit. The case filing got delayed due to collection of invoices from all circle offices.

RCom has been struggling to pay Rs 453 crore out of Rs 550 crore to Ericsson under a settlement reached between the two firms before NCLAT. (courtesy: press reports)

Red Salute to Com.E.M.S., the architect of Kerala, on his 21st Death anniversary!

It is folklore  that Kerala was recovered from the sea by warrior saint Parasurama by throwing his axe and pushing the sea backwards.  Hence Kerala is also called Parasurama Kshetra.

But it is a fact that nobody will question that the architect of the present Kerala is none other than Comrade E.M.S. Namboodiripad, the first Chief Minister of Kerala and one of the greatest Marxist theoretician the world has ever seen. 19th March 2019 is his 21st death anniversary.

Born  in an aristocrat and rich land lord family on 13th June 1909, E.M.Sankaran Namboodiripad developed from a Congress follower and leader to Congress Socialist Party and then to the Communist party of India. He participated in the freedom struggle and was arrested and jailed. His close connection with many stalwart Communist leaders in the jail developed him to  an ardent Communist. When the Communist Party of India split, he along with many others formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is the biggest Communist Party in India. He was an all India leader in Congress, Congress Socialist Party as also CPI and CPI(M). He functioned as the general secretary of CPI and later as General Secretary of CPI(M). He was one of the founder PB members of the CPI(M).

He was one of the founding fathers of the Party in Kerala along with Comrades P.Krishna Pillai, A.K.Gopalan and others. He donated  all his land property and  assets to the Communist Party and lived on the meagre allowances that the party gave him.

The life of Com. EMS, as he was popularly and affectionately called, was full of struggles and activities for the party and the common people. He was a strong proponent of a united Kerala, Aikya Kerala, by uniting the Travancore, Cochin states also Malabar area of the Madras state. His book on the subject is a master piece. In 1956, this long cherished demand was conceded on the basis of the report of the State Reorganization Committee  and Kerala State was formed on 1st November 1956. In the first state election in 1957, the Communist Party won and the Communist Ministry formed with Com. EMS as the first Chief Minister.

The Land  Act as also the Education Act adopted by the EMS government changed the entire scenario in the state. Lakhs of landless tenants got right to land. The Congress party and vested interests including the the communal forces organised a ‘Vimochana Samara’ with full backing of the foreign governments including US and the government was arbitrarily dismissed by the Nehru government in 1959. The first EMS Ministry was one of the best ministries Kerala has ever seen.

Com.EMS again became Chief  Minister again in 1967, when the CPI(M) won the election with majority. Developmental activities were done in a big way.

He was closely connected with the P&T Trade union movement and attended many conferences of the union, including the All India Conference of the AITEE Union Class III held at Thiruvananthapuram in 1994, where I was elected as the General Secretary of the union.

His strictness for time and timely completion of any work is well known. This I have seen myself. Once I have the opportunity to travel with him from Calicut to Mangalore, where he was to address a meeting of NFPTE. He was continuously writing and by the  time we reached Mangalore, he put the same in a cover, wrote the address and told me to post it immediately so that it will reach Chintha weekly next day itself.

An interesting incident also happened. While addressing the meeting  at Mangalore Head Post Office on  the day, he saw the photo of Babu Tarapada Mukherjee, pioneer of the P and T TU movement,  fixed on the wall and asked whose photo it is. When I mentioned that it was the photo of Babu Tarapada, Union leader, he smiled and commented: ‘ so, you have your union leaders’ photo in the Post Office also.’ I mentioned to him also that since there are no place in many Post Offices for holding meetings, we usually hold the same in the office,after office hours.

I had the fortune to meet him several times and interact. Many times when he used to come to Calicut, I met him at the Railway station and sometimes arranged his food also, which was to be prepared strictly according to the diet recommended by his doctor. On the fateful day of 19th March 1998, I was getting down at the Railway Station at Guwahati to attend a Conference, when Com. Swapan Chakraborty, Circle Secretary, NE informed me that Com. E.M.S. has passed away a few hours back. Since I was in the train, I had not heard the sad  news. I wanted to go to Thiruvananthapuram to attend his last journey, but there was no immediate conveyance to reach there.  I paid my homage there in Guwahati itself.

On this 21st death anniversary, we pay our respectful homage to the great leader! Red Salute to Com. EMS!

 

Wages of casual contract workers not yet paid – Agitated workers have started the trade union action

Agitational programme of casual contract labours is going in full swing in many circles and districts due to non-payment of wages since months together. CHQ BSNLCCWF has taken decision to organise Hunger Strike programme on 13th March, 2019, before GM Offices. CHQ is getting news of the agitational programme held throughout the country where good number of casual contract labours have participated. Some circle unions have taken the programme to focus the resentment to the Management. Some circle union has conducted their organisational level meeting like CWC / Convention with a mobilisation of good number of contract / casual labours. Some circle unions has submitted the memorandum to respective CGMTs. On 6th March, in the AUAB meeting held with the CMD BSNL the same matter was also discussed. The Management had assured that a balance position will be taken to make the payment of vendors so that the field level casual / contract workers can get the wages in time. (BSNLCCWF website)