Dear Comrades, Friends and Well Wishers,
As stated earlier, I am posting the book on the Telecom Trade Union Movement from 1991 to 2015 in this blog in installments. Any suggestion, correction, modification and also criticism from the readers will be much appreciated and valued.
Telecom TU Movement 1991 to 2015 – The Challenge, The Change and the Forward March
Posts and Telegraphs Trade Union movement has a glorious history of more than one century. The movement in an organised way was started by the first decade of the 20th century, though there were certain local struggles earlier on some urgent issues faced by the employees. During the period 1900-1920, the major associations, Indian Telegraph Association, All India (including Burma) Post Office & RMS Union and All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union were formed, initiated by the pioneers, Henry Barton, Tarapada Mukherjee and V.G.Dalvi respectively. The Historic 1946 Postmen Strike and the First Pay Commission of 1946 resulted in a series of efforts to unify the unions/associations, which resulted first in the formation of the Union of P&T Workers (UPTW) in 1947 and later the formation of National Federation of P&T Employees (NFPTE) in 1954. All the existing unions/associations were realigned and resultant 9 unions affiliated to the National Federation of P&T Employees.
NFPTE was in the lead in all the struggles of the Central Government Employees. It called for a strike in 1957 demanding appointment of II Central Pay Commission, which was deferred after the government agreed to the demand. The 5 Days Glorious Strike of 1960 by the Central Govt. Employees against the retrograde recommendations of the II Central Pay Commission was treated as ‘Civil Rebellion’ by the Nehru Government and took strong measures to suppress it. There continued a series of major struggles by the CG Employees throughout the last century, in which NFPTE always took the pivotal role. The One Day Historic Strike of 19th September 1968 demanding Need Based Minimum Wage, the 1974 Railway Strike for grant of Bonus, in which the forward section of the NFPTE & CGE movement also participated are only a few of the great struggles organised during the period. In all these strikes, employees in lakhs were severely victimised by way of arrests, imprisonment, dismissal, termination and other punishments. A few Railway employees at Pathankot, Bikaner etc. became martyrs in the 1960 and 1968 strikes.
Consequent to the bifurcation of the Postal and Telegraphs Department in 1985, NFPTE was bifurcated in to National Federation of Postal Employees(NFPE) and National Federation of Telecom Employees(NFTE). Though the parting was heartbreaking, there was no other way. But co-ordination continued. In Circles like Kerala and Assam, even the Circle Conferences were held together for a very long time.
The bifurcation of the P&T Department was a tactical decision to shift telecom sector in to a separate entity, in which developments were taking very fast. It was also to divide the mighty organisation of NFPTE which was in the forefront of the struggles. NFTE was fully controlled by the revisionist leadership of Com. Om Prakash Gupta, Secretary General NFTE, who also was the General Secretary of two out of the five affiliated Unions. This leadership compromised with the government on many major issues like recruitment, promotions, restructure etc. which were against the interest of the employees. Serious inner struggles started in the affiliated unions. A new progressive leadership came in All India Telegraph Traffic Employees Union Class III (usually called T.III union) in the last years of 1980s. In the All India Telecom Employees Union Class III (E.III Union), there was serious opposition to the revisionist leadership of Om Prakash Gupta, General Secretary, which resulted in a contest of office bearers in the All India Conference of the Union at Bhopal in 1991. The revisionist leadership was defeated and new office-bearers with V.A.N.Namboodiri as President and Moni Bose as General Secretary were elected.
The present book starts its narrative from this period. The challenges, the new leadership had to face, were many. It had to face both the defeated leadership and the department which was supporting the latter and which could not get adjusted to the new progressive leadership.
This period of 1991 – 2000 as well as the period from 2000-2015 consequent to the formation of BSNL is included in this book. This has been a period of challenge, change and consolidation, in which lakhs of workers have been active partners who marched forward with determination, dedication and direction.
This book is dedicated to these entire workers who made the forward march possible. I am sure that this will give inspiration and confidence to the BSNL workers to continue their forward march for strengthening BSNL, for a better service to the nation and improvement of their own conditions.
Patron, BSNL Employees Union.
26th July 2015.