24th November 2020 – The 67th Foundation Day of NFPTE
66 years are over after National Federation of P and T Employees (NFPTE), the mighty organization of Posts and Telegraph workers was formed on 24th November 1954.
But it was not the first organization of P and T workers. Trade unions started in the P and T in the first and second decades of the 20th century under the leadership of Babu Tarapada Mukherjee, Henry Barton and V.G.Dalvi, Bar-at-Law. Militant struggles were organized in 1908, 1919 etc. for immediate demands of the workers, some of which succeeded.
The Postmen Strike which started under the leadership of V.G.Dalvi from 11th July 1946 continued for 22 days and engulfed all sections of the P and T workers. The British government was compelled to come down, negotiate and settle all the 12 major demands of the worker. Lakhs of workers in the major cities of Calcutta, Bombay, Madras etc. under the leadership of AITUC, the only central trade union in the country then, marched in support of the striking workers. 1946 P and T strike is considered as part of the Independence struggle as in the case with the Royal Navy Mutiny and Debhaga struggle.
The strike and the retrograde recommendations of the First Central Pay Commission (1946) resulted in an urge for a single organization and Union of P and T Workers (UPTW) was formed before India got Independence. O.P.Gupta was one of the Joint Secretaries. But still some unions were out of UPTW. A re-amalgamation of all unions were patiently organized, with the initiative of the then Communications Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram. Thus National Federation of P and T Employees (NFPTE) and 9 affiliated All India Unions were formed on 24th November 1954 in a grand convention held at New Delhi. History was being created in the trade Union movement itself. V.G.Dalvi was the first President and B.N.Ghosh (Dada Ghosh), the first Secretary General. UPTW was affiliated to AITUC since formation and at that time the President of both AITUC and UPTW was the same person, Com. Mrinal Kanti Ghosh. After formation of INTUC in 1947, UPTW disaffiliated from AITUC and continued as an independent Federation. NFPTE also continued as such.
A strike was called for by NFPTE for the appointment of II Central Pay Commission and since it was agreed, the strike was withdrawn. But against the retrograde recommendation of the II CPC, legendary 5 days strike was organized by the central government employees under the leadership of Confederation, AIRF, AIDEF and NFPTE. The Jawaharlal Nehru Government promulgated the Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance and arrested and jailed tens of thousands of workers and leaders including many M.P.s and All India leaders of AITUC and other left TUS for leading and supporting the strike. 14 comrades became martyrs being shot dead and purposely over-run by trains.
Again a historic one day token strike was organized on 19th September 1968, which has no parallel in history. 17 comrades became martyrs of the wrath of the central government. Again tens of thousands were arrested and jailed. In Kerala alone, 300 workers were terminated and about 500 suspended. The all India figure was much more. It is to the credit of the Com. E.M.S.Namboodiripad Government in Kerala, that it openly supported the strike and refused to implement Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance promulgated by the Central Government, even braving the threat of the Centre of being dismissed.
In the Federal Council held in 1970, the beloved leader of the P and T employees, Com.K.G.Bose was elected as the President of NFPTE, which heralded a new era of progress and militancy.
Again the Strike of 1974 for Bonus, in which the Railway Workers took the leading part. The result came later that in 1979 Bonus for the first time was granted to Central Government employees and later to state government employees. The struggle on demands of Extra departmental employees by the entire Postal workers created another history.
Consequent to the bifurcation of Post and Telegraphs as separate departments, NFPTE was also bifurcated in to NFPE and NFTE in 1986.
Telecom was made in to a Corporation and BSNL was formed in October 2000. NFPE continues in Postal department while BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) formed in 2001 is the recognized union in BSNL. They continue to work in the historic tradition of NFPTE.
NFPE and BSNL Employees Union participated in all the General Strikes organized by the central trade unions since 1981. They have given call for participation in the 26th November 2020 strike also. BSNL Casual and Contract Workers Federation also has given call for strike.
All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association (AIBDPA), All India Postal and RMS Pensioners Association (AIPRPA), National co-ordinating Committee of Pensioners Association (NCCPA) have expressed solidarity to the strike and called the organize dharnas and demonstrations of 25th November.
On this 67th Foundation Day of NFPTE, we pay homage to the great leaders who led the movement, lakhs of workers who built up the organization and the martyrs who sacrificed their valuable lives in the altar of struggle.
NFPTE Zindbad! NFPE Zindabad! BSNLEU Zindabad! AIBDPA Zindabad! AIPRPA Zindabad! NCCPA Zindabad! BSNLCCWF Zindabad!