Today I got the opportunity to meet Shri Gunahari, Asst. Labour Commissioner, Mumbai and discuss about the non-implementation of labour laws and denial of minimum wages to the contract labour engaged in BSNL Maharashtra circle. He was sympathetic on the issue. Coms. G.Mathpati, President and Nana Chavan, Circle Secretary, BSNLCCWF, Maharashtra Circle were with me.
When the 2G scam was exposed, the Government was compelled to cancel the licences to the private companies.
When the ISRO- Axis scam was exposed,the government was forced to cancel the agreement.
Why the government is not cancelling the coal blocks allocated to the private companies even after the scam has been exposed? Is it necessary that a Supreme Court verdict is necessary or a massive movement by the people is necessary.
Is there any hope of better sense prevailing on the government?
New Delhi, Aug 31 : Opening a new front against the Government, UPA’s outside supporter Samajwadi Party joined hands with the Left parties and TDP today to demand a judicial probe into coal blocks allocation and cancellation of licenses failng which they threatened to launch a countrywide agitation. SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav staged a dharna at the main entrance of the Parliament building along with leaders from the CPI, CPI(M), RSP, Forward Block and TDP. They claimed to have support from eight parties for their demand. More than 30 MPs from these parties staged the dharna which began around 10.30 AM. The MPs including Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and TDP’s Nama Nageshwar Rao shouted slogans and carried placards for inquiry into the coal scam and cancellation of allotments of coal blocks. They demanded that the Parliament should be allowed to function and to put an end to the “match-fixing” of the Congress and the BJP to disrupt it. After the 20-minute dharna, Yadav told reporters, “We demand that a sitting Supreme Court judge or the CBI should inquire into the scam. If they don’t order a probe, we will fight at the national level and go to the people on the issue”. Asked if the parties would continue to be together in the future and whether this was the beginning of a Third Front, he said, “This will continue and whatever you want to think, you can do that. “We want the coal block licences should be cancelled and there should be a discussion on the issue in Parliament,” he said. CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said, “Both BJP and Congress want to avoid a discussion because they don’t want it. If there is no discussion, many of their secrets will remain safe. If a debate is held, many skeletons will tumble out of the cupboard.” Asked if Yadav could be trusted, he said, “That is why we are saying that only time will tell what will happen in the future”. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said, “We have united to fight corruption and the efforts to destroy Parliamentary democracy. This will not only be in Parliament but outside also. This is the beginning of a new day and era”. TDP leader Nama Nageshwara Rao said, “We want the government to cancel the allocation of coal blocks”. He alleged that both Congress and BJP were involved in loot of iron ore in Karnataka. Leaders of SP, CPI, CPI(M) and TDP met yesterday in the backdrop of Parliament failing to transact any business for almost two weeks, with the BJP continuing to create ruckus by pressing its demand for the resignation of the Prime Minister.
A well attended Press Conference was organised in Mumbai Press Club on the issues of the casual and contract workers in BSNL. Coms. V.A.N.Namboodiri, President of both BSNLEU and BSNLCCWF explained about the inhuman exploitation of the casual/contract workers by the contractors and the BSNL management. He also briefed the press how the minimum wage is denied to them and that the social security measures like EPF, ESI etc. are denied to them. Casual labours are denied their due claim of regularisation.
Com. G.Mathpati, Circle President and Com. Nana Chawan, General Secretary, Maharashtra Labour and BSNL Contract Labour Union were also present. They informed that a massive dharna will be organised tomorrow on the issues of the Contract workers.
The Minister of State for Communications, Shri Milind Deora has replied to a question raised by Com.Tapan Sen, M.P., in the Parliament that there are 3,348 casual labour engaged in BSNL, and that they can not be regularised in view of the Supreme Court Judgement in Umadevi case against regularisation.
This is a distortion of facts. On the basis of the same judgement of the Supreme Court and as per the DOP&T orders referring to the judgment, hundreds of casual labours in many departments of the central government have been regularised. If BSNL was not formed, these casual labours who were actually engaged by the DOT before formation of BSNL, would have been regularised as in other departments. Formation of BSNL could not be used to deny the right of these casual labours who are continuously working for more than 15 years or so.
This denial of justice has to be fought not only by the casual workers, but by the entire BSNL workers. In fact the unions of the regular employees should organise the struggle to get their colleagues to be regularised. BSNL Employees Union and its leaders at various level have to take initiative for the agitation to get justice rendered to these maximum exploited section of workers.
The BSNL Management have the responsibility to regularise these workers.
The Department of Public Enterprises has moved a Cabinet Note proposing to create a Public Sector Development Authority for unlocking the prime lands owned by the Public Sector Enterprises of the Central Government. These lands are mostly in the central place of the cities and towns and will fetch high prices. The Corporates and the Private companies have been pressurizing the government to sell these lands for real estate purposes etc. It is suggested that the proceeds of the sale would be used to make the loss-making PSUs to become financially viable. But the fact is that as in the case of mines, water, spectrum etc. the land also will be sold at cheap rates to the corporates resulting in windfall gains and heavy loss to the government and the nation.
The proposal has to be seen as part of the neo-liberal policy of the government using the nation’s assets for maximization of profit for the corporates and the MNCs.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has recommeded to improve the FDI, It has also suggested reduction in the subsidy on diesel and LPG. But it is not unanimous recommendations. The M.P.s from the Left Parties who are members of the Standing Committee have strongly opposed these suggestions.
Already the subsidies on petrol, diesel, LPG have been reduced. The Committee’s recommendation, if accepted, will raise the price of these utilities and will cut in to the already cut expenditure of the poor. The Chairman of the Committee is former Finance Minister and BJP leader Shri Yashwant Sinha. Both the Congress and BJP are together is reducing the subsidies to the poor. It is only the Left Parties which stands up for the downtrodden and toiling masses.
The government is trying to disinvest and gradually hand over all the PSUs to the private corporates, stating the PSUs are in loss or some other excuse. But a look at the profit that the PSUs make and the amount they contribute to the Central Exchequer will show that the government is misleading the people.
The top ten profit-making CPSEs in 2010-11 had made a profit of Rs. 66,729 crores. The total profit by all CPSEs is Rs. 1,13,769 crores. They have contributed to the central exchequer is Rs.1,56,124 by way of dividend, interest, customs duty, corporate tax, sales tax etc.
In fact, PSEs are the hens that lay the golden eggs for the Central Government. And the same government is on the way to kill them one after another.
A strong movement is to be launched to stop the government from this perilous and anti-nation conspiracy.
The Central Trade Unions BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and SEWA have decided to organise an All India Convention on 4th September 2012 at Talkatora Stadium New Delhi to plan the future agitational programmes on the major demands already raised in the 28th February Strike in which more than 10 crore workers all over India participated. BSNLEU was also was party to the decision and strike.
Despite such a strike participated by workers more than any other strike in the past, the government has not even called the leaders nor agreed for any of the demands raised in the strike. On the contrary the government is proceeding with more anti-worker actions, disinvestment programmes, and pro-corporate decisions granting subsidy after subsidy to them. No action is being taken to curb the high rising prices.The exploitation of the crores of contract labour continues unabated.
I hope that the All India Convention will discuss all these issues and take necessary decisions on agitational and other suitable programmes. BSNLEU will also be participating in the convention.
The Circle Conference of the BSNLEU Delhi NTR Circle Conference was held today, 29th August 2012 at the CTO dormitory Hall. I was invited to inaugurate the same and I did the same speaking briefly on the issues faced by the working class with special emphasis on BSNL issues. The need for better service and development and expansion were also stressed. Com.P.Abhimanyu, General Secretary, BSNLEU and also CGM NTR, CGM ETP and others addressed. Com.H.L.Makkar, senior leader and President of Circle Union presided. Coms. Chiddu Singh, Vice-President and R.S.Chauhan Circle Secretary welcomed and all and presented with shawls garlands etc. There were good number of delegates.
NTR Delhi is a special circle. While STR,STP,ETR,ETP,WTP,WTR and NTP are all non-territorial circles, Northern Telecom Region is a territorial circle with large number of workers, including the CTO Delhi. It has got staff in J&K, HP, Punjab, Utharakhand, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan. These are all district unions. Delegates from most of these circles were present. So the problems of almost 9 circles have to be discussed by the circle union.
Since the NTR circle was the force and support base of BSNLEU in Delhi along with the Corporate office circle, the management has been continuously trying to shift staff from NTR to Corporate Office, DOT, Haryana, UP etc. so that the staff in NTR can be reduced. This has actually reduced the staff to almost 50%. Despite strong protest by the union, the transfer and deputation could not be stopped. This conference also discussed the matter and demanded the management to stop this unjustified process.
I could not attend the conference fully since I had to come back to my home, the day being ONAM, the main festival of Kerala.