Reverification of Membership in E.III
The DOT on 31st October 1996 ordered reverification of membership of telecom Group ‘C’ employees along with the already ordered verification for other categories. In desperation, OPG and Co. criticized the decisions of the Delhi High Court, Law Ministry, DOP&T and DOT in ordering the verification. He even insinuated Com. Harkishan Singh Surjeet, General Secretary, CPI(M), alleging that this is issued on an understanding between him and Prime Minister to favour Com. Namboodiri. Madness has no limits! In fact, OPG & Co. were afraid of the workers. OPG and NUTE filed cases in Delhi High Court, but could not get any stay.
Delhi CWC
An Emergent E-III CWC was held at New Delhi on 30th October 1996 to finanlise strategy in the verification, presided by President, Com.Moni Bose. To facilitate the union to apply for recognition in confirmation with CCS (RSA) Rules 1993 (New Recognition Rules) that one of the Chief Executive should be a serving employee, Com. Moni Bose, President of E.III Union, elected at Thiruvananthapuram, desired to step down. The house accepted the same with great regrets, as there was no other course. The CWC highly appreciated the spirit behind the offer. Com.K.D.M.Tripathi, Vice-President, was unanimously elected as the President.
The CWC meeting was addressed by .P.S.Ramankutty, GS T-III and Pabitra Chakraborty, GS Administrative Union. The meeting discussed and decided the strategies to face the reverification.
Denial of Union’s Name
Both V.A.N.Namboodiri, General Secretary and M.B.Vichare applied in the same name viz. All India Telecom Employees union Class III for the reverification. But in continuation of its favouritism, DOT refused to entertain the application of Namboodiri. The application was ignored for reasons not known. And surprisingly, the application of Vichare was accepted. DOT wanted the real union represented by Namboodiri to be out of the reverification process to enable OPG and Co. to get majority with out any hurdle.
Mighty Protest Actions – Telegram Campaign
Massive protest rallies were organized throughout the country as per call of the E.III CHQ, demanding cancellation of DOT’s completely prejudiced orders. Thousands of Protest Telegrams were sent to the Prime Minister, Communications Minister and Chairman, Telecom Commission.
Discussion with Minister on 1-1-1997
The country-wide protests had its effect. The union was invited to talks by the Communications Minister Beni Prasad Verma on 1-1-1997. K.D.M.Tripathi, President, V.A.N.Namboodiri, General Secretary and K.M.Pillai, Treasurer met the Minister and Chairman Telecom Commission A.V.Gokak with other senior officers on the day. The union demanded acceptance of its application for the re-verification. The arrogant DOT officers ridiculed the demand by stating that the union can approach the courts, as was done earlier. The union stated that they are requesting the intervention by the Minister.
As a solution to the complicated issue, it was agreed the union’s application will be accepted as “All India Telecom Employees Union Class III (Namboodiri)”, as per the suggestion of the Minister, thus adding the name of the chief executive in brackets for identification, as was done in the case of Indian National Congress (Indira), when a dispute arose in the Congress party. After consultation with senior comrades and CWC Members available on phone, application to that effect was submitted to DOT on 02-01-1997. This became necessary to protect the organization from being kept out of the verification.
But the DOT was not happy and delayed accepting the application. After delaying matters for long three months, again on the intervention of the Minister, the DOT accepted the application on 11-04-1997.
Limited TU Facilities
The verification was by check off system, though the union wanted by secret ballot. The Federation wanted check off system, where manipulation with the connivance of the management can take place as before. As part of the re-verification process, the time schedule was announced on 03-06-1997. Limited Trade Union Facilities were granted to all applicant unions in order to conduct the verification in an equitable and fair manner vide orders dated 12-06-1997.
Reverification Starts
The time schedule was changed more than once on request from OPG & co. and other Federations. They wanted time to file cases for staying the verification. Supply of verification forms started on 31-07-1997. The significance of the verification was not lost on anybody. The sustained struggles conducted by us had gone to the workers. The alternate policies and demands which we had raised and popularized have been appreciated by the workers. This will certainly have its positive impact on the verification.
E.III (Namboodiri) in winning position
The workers rose to the expectation. Within 5 days, the trend was very clear. In 9 circles viz. Assam, North East I & II, Calcutta Telephones, Telecom Factories, Telecom Stores, W.Bengal, A&N Islands and Kerala, we maintained an unenviable position with huge majority. We got majority in Madras telephones, A.P., Karnataka, U.P.(East), UP(West), Haryana etc. and largely improved our positions in other circles. An analysis on the basis of the reports made it clear that E.III (Namboodiri) will get No.1 position with more than 35% required for recognition. NFTE and other Federations became panicky. They wanted to scuttle the verification to avoid getting defeated.
Reverification stayed
They moved various Courts to stay the ongoing verification. They could not approach the Delhi High Court, since the same has already been denied by it. Instead, they filed petitions in Mumbai High Court, Chennai High Court, Ernakulam High Court, Tiz Hazari and Sonepat Courts.
The Sonepat Civil Court issued the first stay. Even though it was a lower Court, DOT immediately stayed the verification proceedings. E.III(Namboodiri) filed a petition and got the stay vacated. But another stay was grant by the next higher court at Sonepat itself. Ernakulam High Court stay was got vacated by us. But the Division Bench allowed another stay.
Thus, the re-verification process was stopped half-way due to continued court cases and stays. E.III(Namboodiri) Union was sure to get recognition as the first union and there was a chance that NFTE may also get recognition as second union. But NFTE wanted to deny recognition to E.III (N) and continue its present recognition status. There was no chance for the other Federations and unions to get recognition, thus losing their present recognition.
Thus the workers were not allowed to select their union through the verification process. The dark forces have won temporarily denying recognition to the number one union viz. E.III(N).
(To be continued)