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New Recognition Rules – CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993

The government issued the Central Civil Services (Recognition of Service Association) Rules, 1993 on 09-11-1993, amending the existing rules on the recognition of the associations/unions of central government employees. One of the major changes in the rules was that only a working employee can be the office-bearer of the association/union. Another was that the membership will be verified through the check-off system in pay rolls at such intervals and in such a manner as the government may decide

Important provisions of these rules are given below:

  1. Separate Association for each category
  2. Only an Association representing more than 35% of total strength of the category shall be recognized. Another Association if representing more than 15% of the strength will be recognized.
  3. Only serving government servants will remain members / office bearers of the Association. If an office bearer of a category of Association is promoted, he will cease to be a member/office bearer of that Association.
  4. All amendments to the constitution / bye-laws of the Association shall have to be approved by the government before these could be carried out.
  5. Verification of membership would be through check-off system in pay rolls and not through secret ballot.

Spectre of Privatisation in telecom – N.Vittal as Secretary, Telecom

The appointment of N.Vittal, as Secretary, DOT and Chairman, Telecom commission in 1994 speeded up  the move for privatization of the telecom sector as part of the neo-liberal policy of the government. Inviting the entrepreneurs to invest in the huge profitable telecom sector, he stated that Government should consider 10 years tax holiday or 16 % return to the private sector units for their investment in the sector.

Meanwhile reports also came that at Tumkur and Bangalore in Karnataka, Tirupur and Tutucorin in T.Nadu, Ghaziabad in U.P. etc. MNCs and their partners and collaborators among Indian monopoly houses have been invited to open new services to meet the existing and expanding demands for telephone.

It was also reported that two schemes will be implemented – BLT(Build, Lease and transfer)  and BOT (Build Operate and transfer) were being finalized for the private operators.

In this background the three recognized federations met N.Vittal, Chairman, Telecom Commission on 26th April 1993. Vittal assured the Federations that the existing 4.7 lakh telecom workers will be fully protected, their career prospects would be guarded and the entire workforce will be given training in the new technologies for which a scheme will be finalized.

E.III (N) Union strongly protested these moves for privatization  and expressed firm view that in the name of competitiveness we can not allow dual functioning.

The three recognized Federations, viz. NFTE, FNTO and BTEF, after the meeting with the Secretary DOT met and decided to go on strike in November 1993 to focus people’s attention on the policy of destabilization of the services in the name of liberalisation and  deregularisation.

The demands for the strike are:

  1. No duality/multiplicity in Telecom Services
  2. Complete upgrading of skills and education of workforce to change the work culture
  3. Reduce working hours as recommended by the ILO to absorb surplus staff
  4. End corruption at all levels.
  5. Provide full information to unions and hold meaningful consultations
  6. Settle all aspects of the workers’ organizations.

One Day Stay-in, Pen Down  Strike on 31-12-1993

After one postponement of date, One Day Stay-in, Pen Down  Strike was decided to be organized on 31st December 1993. Initially, OPG & Co. were not prepared for action. As usual, he expressed reluctance to fight against corporatization and privatization. But when ITSA, JTOA, FNTO, E.III, T.III and Administrative Union decided, OPG also agreed. Accordingly the strike notice was issued.

The demands raised in the strike were as follows:

  1. No need of corporatization/privatization
  2. Constitute an independent Telecom Finance Corporation.
  3. Joint Committee Report to be incorporated in the Cabine Note
  4. Consultation with Staff Side before launching any move for a change in the structure of the DoT.
  5. Upgradation of the skills of the workers.

The Chairman, Telecom Commission met the unions and discussed the issues, but there was no progress in settling the demands. Hence the strike decision was reiterated.

The strike was a complete success. Since the call was given by all the three Federations and the Unions, there was good co-ordination in the campaign and the implementation.

The Indian Telecom Service Association(ITS), the organization of the  ITS officers, observed Protest Day on the same day, 31st December 2015 to synchronize their opposition to the move of the government for corporatization, by wearing black badges and extended full support to the strike by employees. The class II Officers’ Association, TESA, observed pay-boycott on the same day to fall in line with the united movement.

The government was prompt enough to declare the strike as illegal and threatened to punish the striking employees with orders of penal measures. The workers ignored them and fully participated.

Altogether the one day Stay-in, Pen Down Strike was a warning by all the employees to the government that any move for corporatization or privatization of telecom will be unitedly opposed.

US telecom MNC threatens H.P.Wagle, Chairman, Telecom Commission

It was reported in the press that Van E.Snowdon, Vice-President of ‘Vanguard’ one of the biggest cellular operator in USA, has threatened that, if necessary, that good offices of the International Monetary Fund(IMF) will be used through diplomatic channels to remove H.P.Wagle, ITS, Chairman, Telecom Commission from his post. The reason? He was not prepared to open the flood gates for any cellular company to open in the metros and stuck to the position that rules will be strictly implement. H.P.Wagle was the last ITS officer to hold the post of Chairman, Telecom Commission. He retired in September 1993. Afterwards no ITS officer was posted in that position. N.Vittal, the so called telecom expert was his successor. (To be continued)