MY LIFE AND STRUGGLES – 37
It became necessary to shift to Trivandrum after being elected as Circle Secretary. Applied for transfer and got it without delay. Packing dresses and other necessary things in an iron trunk box, left for Trivandrum. Very difficult for wife Pankajam to look after two young children aged 3 and 5 and also to attend duties. One girl was arranged to help.
Reached Trivandrum on 13th June 1977. Went directly to the room in which Com. G.Soman, union leader and T.O., Trivandrum was staying. He was not there. Since I knew where the key was kept, took it, opened door and settled. Soman had gone home at Varkala. This was a place from which it was only minutes to telephone exchange as also to P and T House, the Union Office.
One more comrade staying in the room – Com. P.Balakrishnan, T.O. Both of them used to go home now and then. I will be on tour frequently. So, only very few occasions when all of us will be together. Breakfast, meals etc. from nearby Trivandrum Hotel. Tea, snacks from exchange canteen when on duty. In almost all exchanges, there were departmental or co-operative canteens.
Colleagues and supervisors were helpful. Was given light duties and allotted convenient shifts in order to attend union work. Necessary to go to office of General Manager daily to discuss issues. Walking, bus or autoriksha was mode of journey. Mostly walking, since buses were vey congested and auto riksha costly.
There was no typewriter for circle union. Difficult to work without one. Even as Branch Secretary at Cannanore, I was used to work on typewriter. Very small old portable typewriter purchased from a Typewriting Institute from Trichur for Rs.100/- in 1962, is still at Cannanore Union office, as told by comrades there. There were no funds for Circle Union to purchase typewriter. In fact, it was almost nil balance, when new office-bearers took over.
Com.S.R.K.Panickar, newly elected Asst. Circle Secretary came to rescue. Typewriter purchased for Reception Committee of Circle Conference at Kottayam was given for temporary use. Kept at residence, since work can be done in day and night, without disturbing others. There was no space in the very small room allotted to union in P and T House.
Com.N.P.Padmanabhan, Circle Secretary and Convener, P and T Co-ordinating was staying with family in one small room in P and T House. Offices of all 9 unions were functioning in the small place available there. Everybody somehow managed. P and T House was centre of the town and ideal place. It was near General Post Office, Central Telegraph Office, and Telephone Exchange. RMS office not far away, which was in Railway Station. After some years, the building was purchased by the unions and new building constructed where the offices of NFPE and BSNLEU are functioning now.
A new journal “Teleworker” was registered and published by E.III Union, in addition to common journal “Kampithapal” published by Co-ordinating Committee. Helped publishing specific issues of telecom workers effectively and timely.
Lot of urgent problems pending without settlement due to unhelpful attitude of officers as also due to disputes in union and non-recognition for some years. Circle Working Committee discussed and decided to collect all these issues and submit a detailed memorandum to General Manager. A Committee with Circle Secretary, Organising Secretary Com.K.P.Govindan Kutty and Assistant Circle Secretary Com.N.Padmanabhan was formed to tour all exchanges/ offices in divisions, meet workers, hold meetings and collect all problems. Implemented effectively. Workers were happy that their leaders have come to the spot, discussed with them about their day to day problems. Well for leaders also to understand problems of workers.
These issues included working conditions in offices/exchanges, welfare measures, requirement of office/exchange buildings, space for recreation, dormitory, canteen, requests for compassionate appointments, transfers, delay in promotions, confirmations, departmental examinations, staff shortage, lack of equipment, providing staff quarters, delay in settlement of staff claims and so on. All these were compiled and included in the Memorandum, which ran more than 50 full pages.
Memorandum was submitted to General Manager, Telecom Shri K.V.Srinivasan. He was surprised to find so many problems pending and how they were collected. Serious discussion took place and assurance was given that they will be settled as early possible.
Knew that assurance is one thing and settlement another. In order get issues settled early, a proposal was presented to GM. Many of these issues required approval of Chief Accounts Officer of Circle. Suggested to GM that CAO along with Union Circle Secretary visit all divisions with respective DET and Divisional Secretary of union and take decisions on the spot and approval given, wherever possible. This was agreed. Lot of problems were sorted out in this way. Tours were utilised to organise union meetings. (to be continued). Photos 1. S.R.K.Panickar 2.K.P.Govindan Kutty