- SECOND MEMBERSHIP VERIFICATION AND VICTORY
After getting recognition consequent to membership verification, NFTE, instead of trying to settle problems of the workers, were more interested in attacking BSNLEU, its leaders and workers. It tried to destabilize BSNLEU through many crooked ways. Eight Circle Secretaries of BSNLEU were got transferred with the connivance of management. Even ordinary members were got transferred to distant places. Pressurized management not to meet and discuss with BSNLEU leaders.
But it was not easy for management to ignore BSNLEU, which got majority in 7 circles and was the second biggest union with only slight difference in the votes with the first union. Union office-bearers made it a routine to meet the officers, give letters and discuss matters with them. Many issues were settled at all India level. But management will not reply letters and BSNLEU is not recognized. No seat in the JCM.
With determination to win in the next membership verification, preparations were started early. Discussed with S/Shri K.Vallinayagam and Thomas John, leaders of FNTO, which got 13% votes in the membership verification and was in the third position. They also were opposed to the agreements being made by the recognized union, bypassing the interests of the workers. Both the unions understood that NFTE had to be defeated, if the workers’ interests are to be safeguarded. Discussion took place and it was decided to form alliance for contesting in the second membership verification. The alliance was called United Forum with Vallinayagam as Chairman and VAN as Convener. Though names of FNTO and other alliance unions will be in the ballot paper, their members will vote for BSNLEU and seats in JCM will be shared.
Date of membership verification was notified on 26th July, to be held on 1st December 2004. Four full months were there. This time was utilized to hold conventions and meetings in all the circles, jointly by the alliance unions, wherever they existed. Covered almost all the districts in the country during the period of these two membership verifications. Three or four meetings in a day with the evening meeting in a big town /city with vide publicity and participation. BSNLEU office bearers and workers were in the forefront. Just like political parties, we had prepared our election manifesto with the important demands to be settled and exposed the wrong agreements made by the recognized union, NFPTE. One encouraging fact was that even members of other contesting unions, including that of NFTE, were there to hear us. After returning from the tours, we were sure that we will win this time with good majority.
Membership verification was held on 1st December 2004. Out of 2,83,919 non-executive employees, 2,62,988 voted. BSNLEU got 1,39,827 (53% of votes casted). An increase from 90,000 to 1,40,000 despite reduction of employees within the last two years. Great victory. NFTE got only 30%. The number shows that not only BSNLEU and its alliance, but also many NFTE members might have voted for BSNLEU. Our campaign had its effect.
After working without recognition for about 14 years since 1991, in DOT and BSNL, it was only with the hard work, sincerity and dedication of the thousands of active workers and leaders that BSNLEU got number one position and recognition. The alliance partners’ contribution was also there. All of them sincerely worked very hard to achieve the victory.
After getting recognition, BSNLEU ensured seats for all the alliance unions in the JCM. Though BSNL Management was reluctant to give seats to alliance partners, the strong stand taken by the union, settled the same. Alliance partners were happy since they got comparatively more seats than their votes. BSNLEU kept its words. FNTO President Thomas john became the Leader and myself the Secretary of the JCM Staff Side. NFTE lost its recognized status. Many employees who were with NFTE only because of the recognized status shifted to BSNLEU, once it got recognition.
After verification, I put a suggestion to the GM (SR) to publish a book containing the orders etc. on verification and how it was conducted in BSNL. It was published along with introductions by both OPG and myself.
It was at this time that the Railways decided to conduct membership verification through secret ballot. Com.Chaubey, Secretary General, AIRF, visited my residence twice to enquire and find out how the verification was conducted. Gave him all the details and instructions issued. A copy of the book on verification published by BSNL was also handed over. He later told that it helped much in conducting verification. (to be continued)