The Days of 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. BJP, CPI(M) 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 at that time. 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. Comrade Jyothirmoy Basu came in the night at about 03.00 AM or so, took out some dresses etc. and left through the back-door by which way he had come. However he was later arrested and jailed.

Next day 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. Incidentally at that time a call came from Ernakulam 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 editorial condemning Emergency. I was told later that 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.

On 28th 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 late 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 was Indira’ became the slogan of the sycophants. People were arrested and jailed without any reason. It was dictatorship. But resistance continued inside and outside.

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.

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 dark forces are trying to create communal tensions.

The National Emergency of the 1975-77 and its brutal suppression of people and their rights have not been forgotten. Nobody wants another or similar Emergency and attack against 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!

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!

Jaipur and Ahmedabad Airports being sold to private

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There is not a single day without news about selling of the central PSUs. The latest is the privatisation of the airports at Jaipur and Ahmedabad. The government has proposed to hand over these two airports to the private for a period of 10 years. The private companies want the period to extended to more years. As usual, the government is likely to surrender to the corporates and increase the period from 10 to 15 or 20 years.

Modi government will convert all the PSUs in to private companies, unless might opposition and struggles take place by the workers and the central trade unions against this selling of the government assets.

Karnataka Government assures regularisation of 11,000 contract workers, Minimum Wage of Rs. 17,000

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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah stated that 11,000 contract workers will be regularised within the next three months. He also stated that the present minimum wages of Rs. 4,000 – 5,000 will be increased to Rs. 17,000.

Assurances are well taken. The government should implements its assurances. The workers will certainly need to fight to get the assurance implemented.

Agitation against privatisation of HLL Life Care Limited

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The decision of the central government to privatise the HLL Life Care Limited, the PSU manufacturing contraceptives etc. stationed at Thiruvananthapuram, is strongly opposed by the 20,000 workforce as well as the trade unions in the city. Stated in the 1970s, the Hindustan Latex Limited 9 the former name of HLL Lifecare Limited), the company has grown in a big way with continuously posting year after year.
19 acres of prime land was allotted by the government for the HLL at the nominal rate of Rs.2? and the Tamilnadu and Karnataka Governments also have contributed. There is anger and frustration among the workers and the local people, since a good percentage of the workers belong to the area itself. Realising the anger, the HLL management has now proposed to the government 49% stake sale.

Neither there is any need for stake sale nor privatisation. CITU, along with the union in HLL have strongly protested privatisation. The company is running well, it is profitable and it is supporting the local people.The government should withdraw its proposal for privatisation/stake sale and allow the PSU to function as before.

Dharna demanding wage Revision, Pension Revision etc. by BSNL Workers

Massive Dharnas were organised in front of BSNL Offices, including at the Corporate Office, New Delhi demanding immediate wage revision w.e.f.01-01-2017, Pension revision, 30% supernumerary benefits to BSNL recruitees, reduction of pension contribution limited to the actual pay and also against the anti-trade union measures taken by the BSNL Management. The reports and photoes received show that the workers and pensioners have taken the call in its right spirit and have participated in hundreds in most of the places.

In Kozhikode Telephone Exchange where the dharna was organised, the workers and pensioners gathered in large  numbers despite the heavy rain. I was given the honour to inaugurate the dharna, after the welcome speech by the Convener of All Unions/Associations Com. Jayarajan (DS BSNLEU) and the presidential speech by Com. Sasidharan (SNEA). Both of the explained the reasons for the dharna and the anti-worker attitude of the management. In my inaugural address, I also mentioned about the demands and the anti-working class character of the government. It is only through sustained struggles that the workers will be able to achieve  the demands.

The preparation for the One Day Strike on the same demands on 27th July 2017 has to start immediately and made a grand success. This wage revision is most important a large number of workers who will be retiring before next wage revision.

It seems that the BSNL management and the police did not allow the workers to organise the dharna inside the corporate office premises and it was held outside of the compound. The action of the management is strongly condemned. Such dharnas and progammes were conducted always inside the compound despite objection of the management / police and there is no justification to deny this right to the workers.

WFTU Vice-President ‘s address in ILC Geneva


WFTU FISE Vice-President addressed the 106th ILC in Geneva 14.6.2017
16 Jun 2017106th ILC, ILO
Speech of Chrysi Lampoudi, Vice President of the FISE

Dear Colleagues,
We represent here today the FISE which was founded in 1946 and which from then until now is a member of the WFTU. At the same time we are a permanent member of UNESCO in Paris, and we actively participate in all the interesting international Forums that have to do with Education and teachers. We believe that from 1946 until today our organization has dealt with all the major subjects concerning education. Through the struggle of the workers of the past century, we have achieved great progress and many of the problems of teachers were resolved. Illiteracy was contained, and in several countries first level education became mandatory.

Unfortunately in the last decade governments around the world are trying to get back everything with achieved through our struggle. The deep economic crisis of capitalism is being used by the governments as an excuse to dismantle free and public education, to lower the quality of education and take back the rights of teachers and professors.

In many countries we have in progress what we call an “education reform” . In reality it should be called “anti-educational reform” because its real target is to destroy what we have built for decades.

– The central goal of capitalists and monopolies is the privatization of education.
– The quality of education is on a constant drop and the historical truth is being twisted
– Parents and students are being forced to pay for their education, something that the State should be obliged to do.

Teachers are being prosecuted under the slogan of the assessment and with the excuse of the capitalist crisis their wages are reduced. At the same time, the number of teachers is decreasing at all levels.

Against this anti-educational policy ,important trade union struggles have taken place. Teachers in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Chicago, Canada, Greece, France, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Italy , In India, in Algeria, and in many other countries and in every corner of the world,they have organized major strikes. The militant attitude of many teachers’ unions was brutally hit by several governments.

Today, here we have a memorandum of Teachers from Mexico that show the character of the attack against teachers who are fighting for decent work. The federal government is threatening to dismiss thousands of teachers because they do not accept to become slaves in the 21st century.

We mention the example of Mexico because we think it is characteristic and it covers all teachers in all continents. We also ask this multi-party delegation of ILO, along with trade union representatives, of all international trade unions, to visit Mexico soon and demand that the Federal Government immediately stop threats and Terrorism at the expense of teachers and at the expense of Specific educational institutions as it does against the historic University of Mitschakan.

ILO should in practice defend decent work and teachers. Dignity means that it is the right of every child to have public free education, that each teacher has the right to be respected for his/her job, to have proper, modern working conditions and decent wages. We, as FISE, commit ourselves to consistently continue with the World Trade Union Federation and all the trade unions to be on the side of teachers in every corner of the globe. Because the right to education must belong to everyone.

World Federation of Trade Unions

Pension Revision in BSNL – Illusions and Realities – Article by Com.K.G.Jayaraj, GS, AIBDPA

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Dear Comrades,
I am herewith posting the full text of the Article published in the ‘Telepensioner’ June issue, written by Com.K.G.Jayaraj, General Secretary, AIBDPA. It is educative and gives the correct approach to the issue of Pension for BSNL employees.

Pension Revision in BSNL – Illusions and Realities.

K.G. Jayaraj, General Secretary, AIBDPA

When BSNL was formed as a fully government owned PSU under Company Act on 01.10.2000, the employees were offered pension from the consolidated fund of the government. And for this, rule 37 A was incorporated in CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972. The pay scales of BSNL employees were also upgraded from CDA to IDA scales. There was a strong argument during this time from certain union leadership, particularly Com. O.P. Gupta that pension should be paid on CDA scales. This argument was unitedly resisted and defeated under the leadership of Com. V.A.N. Namboodiri and the progressive section with the all round support of the other unions. If the argument of Com. O.P. Gupta was agreed to, there would have been huge loss in the pension of BSNL pensioners.

The issue of pension revision arose after the pay revision in BSNL and other CPSEs w.e.f. 01.01.2007. The DoT as well as the government refused to revise the pension for the pre-2007 BSNL pensioners on the plea that there is no provision for pension revision in the Rule 37 A. This was fought tooth and nail by not only the pensioners organisation but all the serving employees unions and succeeded in getting pension revision.

Then came the issue of pension revision on 78.2% IDA or benefit of the merger of 50% IDA with pay. The BSNL employees were granted this benefit notionally from 01.01.2007 with financial effect from 10.06.2013. But the government was not prepared to implement it to those retired before 10.06.2013. The main hurdle pointed out was 60:40 condition for payment of pensionary benefits. Still, with the serious intervention of the employees organisations, powered with two strikes, compelled the government to scrap the 60:40 condition and granted the 78.2% IDA fixation to BSNL pensioners.

During the course of this long and sustained struggle, some people advocated the idea of 7th Pay Commission fixation formula for the BSNL pensioners. What made these people to prefer such a demand was the continuous loss incurring of BSNL. It is more or less the same demand Com. Gupta had put ward and rejected by all. So now these people say that 7th Pay Commission fixation should be implemented on IDA scale. The justification for such a demand is that BSNL pensioners are covered under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972. Yes CCS (Pension) Rules ensures BSNL pensioners, all the pensionary benefits being granted to central government pensioners, but barring pension, and medical facilities (IDA pattern). As far as pension is concerned, BSNL retirees are governed by Rule 37 A, amended during formation of BSNL. Even if, the government agrees for fixation formula on 7th Pay Commission recommendation, it would become imperative to be downgraded to CDA scales as per existing rule.

It was just a couple of years ago that MTNL retirees were granted pension and other benefits at par with BSNL pensioners, but only after downgrading the pay scales to BSNL pay scales.

Let us come back to BSNL. These people had written off BSNL stating that even ‘God’ cannot revive BSNL and bring it to profits. And on an occasion CMD BSNL said that there will be no pay revision in BSNL w.e.f. 01.01.2017, these people became very jubilant and were in a celebrating mood. But the continued efforts of the employees, spearheaded by all the unions and the Management brought out a wonderful turn around posting operational profits of Rs.672 crore in 2014-15 and Rs.3,856 crore in 2015-16. This made the CMD BSNL to change his earlier stand and assured a decent pay revision in BSNL. The survival of BSNL as a government PSU is very much warranted to ensure telecom services to the people at affordable rates and save them from the sheer exploitation of the greedy private telecom companies.

After the 3rd PRC submitted it’s report, both BSNL Management and DoT had taken a positive stand on pay revision in BSNL, despite the affordability condition in the PRC report. However, it is reported that in the Secretaries meeting under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary held on 12.05.2017, the Additional Secretary of Department of Telecom took a passive stand. All the unions and associations under the leadership of BSNLEU therefore has decided for a phased program of agitation, culminating in a strike on 27.07.2017, demanding pay revision and pension revision. Affordability conditions are nothing new. There had been such affordability condition in the 1st and 2nd PRC also. The 3rd PRC in its report itself has reproduced the operational portion put forward by the 1st and 2nd PRC.

Ist PRC – 2.4.8(a) Affordability.

CPSEs which did not make profit during the last three years would also be allowed to adopt the same recommended pay scales, but with the approval of the administrative ministries in consultation with DPE.

IInd PRC – 2.4.10(a) Affordability.

The parameter for deciding affordability was that by implementing the pay package, the dip in the profit of CPSEs for the year 2007-08 should not exceed 20% in respect of executives. If the dip is more than 20%, then the pay package would not be implemented in full, but in different part stages.

As for scoring, the CPSEs were categorised into five groups. A+, A, B, C and D. The 2nd PRC recommended 5 sets of pay scales for five categories. It also recommended different fitment method.

But after the struggle of the workers, the government was compelled to reject the categorisation and a uniform pay scales was prescribed.

Fitment was also made uniform with @ 30% of BP + DA. The 3rd PRC in it’s executive summary, para 5, has recommended that “Affordability condition shall not be applicable to such CPSEs which are formed to perform specific agenda of the government”.

The CMD BSNL in his DO letter dated 07.06.2017 to Secretary, DoT, with copy to Secretary, DPE has quoted the above recommendation and has effectively pleaded that it is very much applicable to BSNL. BSNL is committed to implement the Telecom Policy, 1999. BSNL is incurring loss for keeping up the social obligation of the government by giving landlines in rural areas. And it is no private telecom company but BSNL alone restoring the telecom services where national calamities strikes the country. Also it is the BSNL which is extending telecom services in the terrorist / naxal affected areas by installing sufficient number of towers. CMD also has specifically mentioned about the urgency of pension revision of 2 lakh BSNL pensioners along with the wage revision.

Pay Revision is very much possible, so also pension revision.

Therefore, there is nothing to be disappointed but to be confident that we shall achieve pay revision and pension revision through united and sustained struggle of the workers and whole heartily supported by the pensioners. There would not be much difficulty in the pension revision, once the pay revision is implemented, as there is no 60:40 condition. On the contrary 100% liability is with the Central Government.

Those who have no faith in organization and the struggles, through which only, we have achieved all the genuine demands of both workers and pensioners, may continue to spread rumours and half truths to confuse the pensioners. The legacy of Com. O.P. Gupta was “it is not the responsibility of unions to fight against government policies and that is the job of political parties.”

These people are least concerned about the continuance of BSNL as a government PSU to ensure telecom services at affordable rates to the common people. They are also not concerned about two lakh BSNL employees. And their mindset has narrowed down to ‘let the BSNL and it’s employees go to the hell but give us our pension revision at any cost’.

Let us focus on the programme of struggle already chalked out by all the unions and associations for pay revision and pension revision so that it is made a grand success.

And definitely victory will be ours.

Conferences, Meetings and Classes – What should be the time limit?

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While participating / attending Conferences, Classes, meetings, debates etc. a question used to come to my mind. What exactly should be the time for the speeches, debates etc.  by the various participants.

In these functions, there will usually be a President/ Chairman, a person inaugurating, other speakers and the persons welcoming and proposing vote of thanks etc. Some times, the meeting continues for hours together. All the speakers take maximum time, putting the audience in to inconvenience. They may not express it in words, but the expression on their faces will be a clear indication.

It is the responsibility of the organisers to plan how much time it will take for the programme and how the time is to be divided for the various speeches etc. The main speaker may take 45 minutes to one hour at the most. It is quite sufficient to express the major points and the full attention of the house will be there. If notes are prepared in advance, the time can be well adjusted. Most of our speakers are capable of speaking continuously for two or three hours covering each and every aspect of the subject, but that is not required. There are other speakers, who will add the additional points.

Repeating the same points by raised by the earlier speakers is not necessary. If unavoidable mention the point briefly only. Each speaker has to remember about the speakers who are yet to speak and give time to them.

It will be advisable if the programme along with the name of the speakers and the time allotted is circulated in advance to all the speakers. There is nothing wrong in it and is a good system.

In the case of classes or a single speech, the time can be more than one hour and even up to two hours. All aspects of the issue are presented by the same speaker.

Another aspect is the starting and ending of the programme as planned. Organizers as well as the speakers have to take care of the same.

The audience will appreciate a well arranged and conducted programme.