- FIRST CENTRAL PAY COMMISSION
The Pay Commission with Justice Sreenivas Baradacharya as Chairman furnished a questionnaire and gave it to all unions asking them to submit their comments. Different unions gave different and contradictory comments and demands. The effort for a uniform reply did not succeed. This failure on the part of the unions was unfortunate.
The Commission recommended grant of Rs. 5 as Dearness Allowance when the cost of living index goes up 20 points. Even though a small increase, this recommendation paved the way for grant of DA based on cost of living index for the first time. Some of the recommendations were unfavourable. The different demands raised by the unions might have been one of the reasons for the adverse recommendations.
The unfavourable recommendations of the Pay Commission were a warning to the unions. It underlined the need for a united organization. Discussions were held between the unions on this aspect and the result was the formation of the Union of Posts and Telegraph Workers (UPTW).
India became independent on 15th August 1947 ending the two centuries British rule. British rulers were sent back to their country. People were happy. India was declared a Republic on 26th January 1950.
The hope of the central employees that the new government headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru will do justice by taking favourable decisions on their important and urgent demands was soon found out to be a mirage. The Centre did not accept and implement the favourable recommendations of the Pay Commission including on DA. The spiraling price rise and unavailability of essential commodities made life miserable. The hoarders and black marketers had their day. The government utterly failed to contain steep price rise. The low paid central government employees were unable to make both ends meet.
It was under these circumstances that the P&T and Railway employees decided to go on strike demanding control of prices of essential commodities, grant of DA for increased cost of living index etc. The government was not prepared to tolerate any strike. The Supreme Council of UPTW was convened at Madras to take the final decision to go on strike. The central government moved fast. Most of the leaders and activists reaching Madras Railway Station were arrested on the spot and jailed. Police camped at the Council site. The result was that no strike decision could be taken. The arrested leaders including K.G.Bose, O.P.Gupta, Moni Bose, Janak Gupta and others were kept in jail for months. Many were dismissed and terminated. Some of them including K.G.Bose, Moni Bose etc. were never reinstated in service. In between, the government passed an ordinance prohibiting strike. The strike did not take place.
This serious developments were discussed in UPTW council. Certain opinions arose whether it was correct to call for a strike when the new independent government had only started its work. There was a strong feeling that efforts should be made by all the existing unions for a united organization.
The central government also came to the same conclusion. Instead of a number of unions to deal with, it was better if a single union was there. Communications Minister Rafi Ahmed Kidwai presented the government proposal for a single union. The next minister Jagjivan Ram discussed the issue in detail with the unions. The government had the thinking that strikes can be avoided though discussion with a single union.
After detailed discussion between the unions and the government, it was decided to merge all the unions and form a new organization. According to the agreed proposals, there will be One Federation and 9 affiliated All India unions. Neither the affiliated unions can leave the Federation, nor the Federation can disaffiliate any of the unions. It was a compulsory Federation. In the meeting of delegates of all the existing unions held at Delhi on 24th November 1954, National Federation of P & T Employees (NFPTE) was formed with 9 affiliated All India Unions ie. Class III and Class IV unions in Postal, Telegraphs, Telegraph Engineering and RMS and one combined union of class III & IV in the PMG Offices. The government recognized NFPTE and its 9 affiliated unions and declared that it will not recognize any other union in P & T. V.G.Dalvi and Dada Ghosh were elected as the first President and Secretary General respectively of NFPTE.
The Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers was formed on 16th August 1956 in a convention at Delhi participated by delegates from NFPTE, ITEF, Audit & Accounts Association, Civil Aviation, Survey of India, CPWD etc. This was a milestone in the forward march of the Central employees’ movement. AIRF and AIDEF, the organisations in Railways and Defence, did not join the Confederation probably due to the fact that both of them are having more employees / members than the total employees represented by Confederation. (To be continued).