CHAPTER – 11
In the meantime, the All India Postal and RMS Union, Calcutta Branch, called a meeting at the Tarapada Memorial Hall to discuss and take a decision as to what steps should be taken to show sympathy to the Postmen and Lower Grade Staff of Calcutta who were on strike. The meeting was attended by all. As I was the primary member of this branch, I attended the meeting and moved a resolution to the effect that unless the demands of the Postmen Union were met within 72 hours, the members of that branch would go on strike. The resolution was passed by a narrow margin. As there were sharp differences I sought permission of the Chair to revoke the resolution authorizing the Hon’y Secretary of the Branch to serve the Govt. with 14 days’ notice in case the demands of the workers were not met. The resolution was passed almost unanimously. Nearly one dozen police officers in plain dress were present there and some of them were taking notes. Shri. Birendra Nath Ghosh , M.A.B.L Hon’y Secretary of the Branch, as per resolution , served a 14 days strike notice. This news created a stir amongst the Postal and RMS workers Calcutta. Lt.Col. Byrne, the Presidency Post Master began recruiting one hundred men per day. On the 3rd day, I felt that I should immediately call for an emergent meeting of the Provincial council. The notice and the entire agenda of the Council meeting were sent to all 40 branches of Bengal and Assam by telegram which cost the union Rs.88/10/-.
The Post Master General of Bengal and Assam became a bit shaky at this news and moreover the notice served by the Calcutta Branch was also there. He invited shri. Jitindera Nath Banerjee and my -self and wanted an assurance that in case clerks are asked to do a bit of Packer’s work such as opening of bags and closing and sealing them, they should not refuse. Both of us refused such co-operation. I recalled the days of 1919 when the Postmen of Calcutta were on strike, and the clerks were engaged in doing delivery work on payment of Rs.5/- as extra daily allowance with the result that they became distrustful of the clerks and formed a separate Union which got easy recognition from the Govt. I replied that as the Postmen and Lower Grade Staff were on strike, we would no longer commit the mistake of the past and that none of us will work as strike breakers. The Post Master General Mr. Thoulas became reserved and we left his room quietly.
The 22nd June 1946 Conference of the All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union took the decision for serving the strike notice and accordingly Sri.V.G.Dalvi, General Secretary of the Union served the notice on the 24th on fulfillment of twelve point demands. It is a strange co-incidence the Provincial Council of All India Postal and RMS Union, Bengal and Assam Provincial Branch was also in session on the very date i.e., on the 22nd June, 1946. My proposal for discussing the situation which would arise in case the All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union would take a decision for serving strike notice was turned down by the Provincial Council by a majority of votes. The Council rather took a decision for diverting all its energy towards pay commission which would shortly begin functioning and formed a committee for preparation of memorandum to the commission and not to have anything with the would be postmen strike. The decision was not to my liking. I resigned General Secretaryship and left the meeting in disgust. The council passed a resolution requesting me to withdraw my resignation and in case I would not do so within three days Shri.K.D Roy Choudhry M.A.B.L, Hon’y secretary, RMS Union would succeed me. On the 23rd June at 9 A.M., I got extremely perplexed when Coms. Basant Mukherjee, Durga Mazumdar and Santhi Mukherjee, three active workers of the union came to my residence and declared that they were on hunger-strike and would continue to be so unless I would resume duty as General Secretary in the Provincial Union and they lay down in front of the main door of my residence so that I might not be in a position to cross them and go to office. After an hour tussle with them I had to give an under taking to them that I would go to the union in the evening and resume duty. So the matter ended there. My resumption of duty in the union encouraged the Executive of the reorganization party of the Calcutta Postal and RMS Union and they increased their activities so much that under their guidance the entire younger sections who had enrolled themselves in large number as members of the party began preparing for the struggle.
As one of the member of the reorganization party though advanced in age, I found pleasure to be in their company and to be guided by the 8 men Supreme Executive Committee of the party. It is difficult to say today if I was working under the influence of the party Executive or the executive was also to some extent under my influence. The party had no political leaning. The sole intention of the party was to revitalize the organization which was not running on Trade Union Principles due to various reasons. Any how we were in a happy company.
The strike decision of the All India Postal and RMS Union Calcutta Branch and serving of 14 days strike notice by the Honorary Secretary, Shri. Birendra nath Ghosh was the outcome of the joint effort of the reorganization party executive and my associates in the groups of moffussils. Col.Byrne’s activities and the news of suspension of Postmen at Gauhati, Dhubri, Sylhet and Silchar are factors which had compelled me to call the provincial council meeting. The Council met at the Tarapada Memorial Hall on the 16th and 17th July to consider the situation created by the Postmen strike and also the situation created by suspension of a large number of postmen of different centres of Assam, all of whom were our members. It is not worthy that the Provincial Council which on the 22nd June, 1946 had shown utmost reluctant to discuss even the postmen union’s move for direct action in an hour’s time took decision in favour of launching strike. Representatives of all the 40 district and divisional unions in Bengal and Assam including Assam RMS Union, Calcutta constituted of RMS E. Division, C. Division (Bihar) and N. Division (Orissa) attended the sitting. The decision taken, however, was not considered as final. Twenty four hours time was given by the chairman of the meeting to all councillors to think over the decision. (To be continued)