MY LIFE AND STRUGGLES – 14HISTORIC STRIKE OF JULY 1960For the first time, it was in 1946 that a Pay Commission for central government employees was appointed, which is called as First Central Pay Commission, with Federal Court Judge Shrinivas Baradacharya as Chairman. Raising the major demands of the workers, All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union, under the leadership of its President Shri V.G.Dalvi, Bar-at-Law, issued a strike notice for indefinite strike from 11 July 1946, which spread like wild-fire all over India. In Bengal and some other states it expanded in to a P and T strike. The strike continued for long 22 days. All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the only national trade union then, fully supported and organised solidarity general strike in major cities like Calcutta, Madras, Bombay etc. participated by lakhs of workers. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and some other Congress leaders as also Communist Party of India fully supported the strike.Government was compelled to discuss with the union leaders and settlement reached with all 12 main demands in strike notice accepted. A great victory for workers.National Federation of P and T Employees (NFPTE) formed on 24th November 1954 by merging all existing unions under Realignment Scheme, demanded formation of II Central Pay Commission and issued strike notice in 1957, as government did not concede the demand. However, just before strike, government declared appointment of II CPC with Supreme Court Justice Jagannath Das as Chairman with six other members. Strike was withdrawn.II CPC submitted its report in November 1959, which was completely retrograde. It neither did recommend Need Based Minimum Wage nor D.A. according to increasing cost of living index. It recommended Rs. 75 as lowest pay instead of Rs. 125/-, which is the need based minimum wage as per principles accepted by 15th Tripartite Labour Conference held in 1957. There was no recommendation to increase Dearness Allowance according to increase in cost of living index based on the increase of prices of essential commodities. II CPC recommended pay scales, simply by merging together existing pay and DA. This was worse than recommendations of First CPC.Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers, All India Railwaymens Federation (AIRF), All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) and NFPTE met and formed a Joint Council of Action, which served notice to central government intimating its decision for an Indefinite Strike with effect from midnight of 11/12 July 1960.Instead of meeting JAC and discussing the demands, central government called the proposed strike as ‘Civil Rebellion’ and caused President of India to promulgate ‘Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance’ (ESMO), banning strike in essential government services like Railways, Defence, P and T, Civil Aviation etc. Those who go on strike will be punished by 6 months rigorous imprisonment and Rs. 500 fine; and those who instigate for strike will be punished by rigorous imprisonment for one year and fine of Rs. 1,000! Continuous news of drastic punishments was published in newspapers. All India Radio broadcasted against strike. CID, Special Branch and similar agencies started roaming in offices and residences of employees, creating terror. Prime Minister’s speech against the strike was continuously relayed through AIR. This was the pre-strike situation all over India, including Kerala. Black-legs were being recruited to work during strike. Unfortunately, some of the state government employees also volunteered to work.Shifted my residence from Poduval lodge to another lodge, as it became a disturbance to other inmates, who were other than CG employees, due to continuous presence of police and Special Branch. But disturbance by the police continued. We started a new P and T lodge near the telephone exchange with only employees of our department. We got adjusted to the police presence. Comrades K. Karunakaran Nair, K.P.Krishnamoorthy, P.Govindan Nair and K.L.Jose from the Head Post Office, M.Achuthan Kutty, M.N.Narayanan Namboodiri, C.Sreedharan Nair, K.Kumaran, M.A.Rappai, and I from Telephones were the inmates. Most of them were comparatively new recruits, me being the senior most in the telephones, with about barely two years of service. Of course, senior leaders of NFPTE were in Postal side like Comrades T.M.Janardanan, N.O.Anandan etc. to guide. Records of the union were safely kept with lady comrades staying in hostel.Continuous meetings were held in preparation for strike. Individual members were met to ensure participation. But, a section of seniors were vacillating. Orders after orders were circulated among employees intimating drastic punishments that will be imposed on strikers. Many of us were determined that whatever happens, we shall go on strike. It was call of our union.For the first time in Independence India, a mighty strike was going to take place. Workers were prepared to fight for their rights and Government determined to crush the strike with all the arsenals in their hands. The arrest of Secretary General of NFPTE Com. P.S.R.Anjaneyulu and making him walk through the Delhi roads handcuffed to Tihar Jail, just before start of strike gave indication, how government was going to deal with strikers. All members of Joint Action Council were arrested and jailed even before the strike. (To be continued). (For detailed information about the 1960 strike, kindly go through ‘History of P and T TU Movement’ authored by me).