BSNL is doing great injustice to the contract workers engaged in BSNL. Without even paying back wages, thousands of contract workers have been retrenched. During the Covid-19 period when relief is to be given to the low paid workers, even their hard earned wages are not given. BSNL may be short of funds, but payment of wages is important and has to be paid. Do justice to the contract workers.
The demand of the BSNL Unions and Associations that the ban on compassionate appointments in BSNL should be revoked is a fully justified and timely demand. BSNL is short of hands after about 80,000 employees took VRS under compulsion from management. Outsourcing of all works can not be done. To provide better service to the subscribers and to reduce the extreme workload of the existing employees, new recruitment is required. By restoring compassionate appointments, at least a small relief will be available. BSNL Management should seriously consider and accept the demand of the unions and associations. Further the question of new recruitment also is to be considered.
2. P & T STRIKE OF 1946
The global economic crisis of 1929 -30 did not spare British India. In fact, it was much more severe. The recommendations of the Jahangir Committee, which was appointed to suggest remedial measures utterly failed in its task. The recommendations were completely anti-worker. Ban on recruitment, reduction of existing wages and posts, abolition of ED posts, denial of trade unions rights – all were part of the recommendations. The Emergency Reduction Rules – 1931 was issued on 8th December 1931.
½ Anna ( One Rupee = 16 anna) per rupee was reduced from the salary of those drawing up to Rs. 30/- . For those drawing from Rs. 30 to Rs. 83, one anna per rupee was reduced. Government snatched away more than Rs. 2.75 crore through this method. The pay scales of new entrants were also reduced.
Then existing unions organized agitational programmes against this attack, but government did not relent. Instead, it started victimization of workers. The Second World War (1939 – 45) worsened the situation. During 1943-44, more than 35 lakh people perished in Bengal alone due to famine. When the Director General P & T called the unions and sought support to the government’s war efforts, the unions demanded that Dearness Allowance should be granted to meet the heavy increase in prices of essential commodities. Rationing system was introduced for the first time in the country.
The increase of Rs. 5 to 15 relief to employees recommended by the Adjudication Committee headed by High Court Judge Justice Rajyadhaksha was completely inadequate and did not satisfy the workers.
The II World War ended after Red Army of the USSR marched to Berlin defeating Hitler’s invasion and Japan cities Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombed by USA killing lakhs of people, devastating both the cities through atom explosion. The axis allies Germany-Japan-Italy who started the war were utterly defeated. USA-USSR-British alliance won decisively. The world never has seen so much loss of lives and devastation as in II World War. The United Nations was formed on 24th October 1945 to maintain world peace and to avoid another world war.
It was at this stage that the (First) Pay Commission was appointed by Government of India with Federal Court Judge Sreenivas Baradacharya as Chairman. The intention was to temporarily satisfy the employees and delay settlement of the demands raised by the unions.
Appointment of Pay Commission was not sufficient to satisfy the meagerly paid Postmen & Class IV employees. The All India Postmen & Lower Grade Staff Union headed by V.G.Dalvi served notice to the government for going on indefinite strike w.e.f. 11th July 1946 with the following most important demands:
1. Pay of all officials in P & T should be revised
2. Existing leave rules should be abolished and pre-31 orders restored
3. All distinction on Leave and Pension Rules between superior and inferior servants in P & T should be abolished
4. Officials who acted in higher grade for one year should be confirmed in those grades
5. Posts reserved for promotion for Postmen should be increased from 20% to 50%
6. No retrenchment – Retrenched officials should be reinstated
7. P & T Holidays should be as in other central government departments
8. Work done on Sundays and Postal Holidays should be compensated by Over Time Allowance
9. Gratuity @ one month’s pay for one year service should be granted to family of official dying before earning pension.
10. All distinction in the matter of pay, leave, DA & other allowances between A,B,C, areas should be abolished and all areas should be treated as A area
11. Medical examination for promotion should be abolished
12. Adequate leave reserve should be provided; temporary services should be counted for pension.
Other All India Unions did not serve strike notice on the ground that since Pay Commission has been appointed, there is no need for immediate strike.
The strike started on 11th July itself as given notice of. There was tremendous support for the strike from the people. The pitiable condition of the Postmen, who were delivering letters to them were known to all. Solidarity demonstrations were held with massive participation in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras etc.as per the call of AITUC. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru demanded the British government to accept the genuine demands of the postal workers.
As the news of the strike reached beyond the big cities, postmen in rural areas also participated. At the initiative of leaders like B.N.Ghosh (Dada Ghosh) and K.G.Bose, the Postmen strike was converted to P & T Strike in Bengal with all the P &T unions giving call for strike. In many circles, this was repeated. The P & T services were at a standstill.
Government was compelled to discuss with V.G.Dalvi and other leaders. All the major 12 demands were agreed and the strike was called off on 3rd August 1946 after 23 days. It was a complete success for the workers.
Dada Ghosh, one of the leaders of the strike in Bengal ( who later became the first Secretary General of NFPTE), assessed the strike as follows:
“The strike was not any superimposed movement, but it was a natural outburst of the genuine hardship of the employees. In no civilized country could anyone think of stoppage of Postal, Telegraph and Telephone services for two or three weeks. The strike was a long drawn one because of the callous and unsympathetic attitude of the government. But even then, the public sympathy was a parting kick to the British imperialism in India. Just after a week of the withdrawal of the strike, the Congress formed the Interim Government with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minister of India. Future historians, I am sure, will have to admit it.”
Like the Revolt of the Indian Navy ( Navy Mutiny) at the same time, the P & T Strike also is considered as part of the Independence Movement.
Although the Railway Unions had given strike notice earlier, they were withdrawn on the assurance that Pay Commission will be appointed. But the Railway Unions in South India went on Strike. They were severely punished. (To be continued).
In view of the increasing covid patients and spread, Kerala Government has decided for Lock Down from 8th to 16th May2021. All political parties have fully supported the move. Today more than 40,000 have become positive.
As informed earlier the story of the Historic Five days Strike of 1960 is being serially posted from today.
THE HISTORIC FIVE DAYS STRIKE OF JULY 19601.
1 . THE BACKGROUND OF 1960 JULY STRIKE
The 5 days historic strike of the Central Government employees which started in the midnight of 11th July 1960 is recorded in golden letters in the annals of the trade union movement. It was a strike which had far reaching results.It will seem unbelievable that how a government headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was a respected leader of the freedom movement and an idealist who declared himself as a socialist and who wanted to change the system for the betterment of the toiling masses, could be so cruel as to deny the just rights of the low paid government employees and brutally suppress their struggle through the repressive machinery of the government. But that is what really happened.
Before going in to the reasons of the strike and its various stages, it will be apt to have a look in to the developments of the past few years of the central government employees’ movement and struggles.
British Rule in India
The East India Company which came to India first as merchants, gradually involved themselves in the disputes of the kingdoms and strengthened their position. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, they became stronger and started grabbing kingdom after kingdom on one pretext or other, with the help of the better disciplined and equipped British army.
After suppression of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, which was later correctly called as the ‘First War of Independence’, British government directly took over the reins of the administration of India. The Viceroys, Governor Generals, military officers and thousands of British officers who came from Britain brutally exploited our country. At the same time, they also brought in some reforms which were intended to strengthen their grip on the country. The Railways and Telegraphs which were introduced in India in 1854 gave a strong base to the British rule. Postal services were started in 1774 itself, though it was made available to the public only later. British Officers were at the top of the administrative machinery, including Indian Civil Service (ICS) cadre.
Unlimited power, high salary and quick promotions for the British officers; but pitiable condition for lower officials, who are mainly Indians. Very strict service conditions for them. Severe punishments even for minor mistakes. Very low wages with which it is impossible to maintain a family. No right to form unions or associations. No machinery to raise their demands. What more can be expected for an enslaved people?
But no power on earth can keep the employees and toiling masses enslaved for eternity. It is only natural that protests will arise and workers be organized. By the end of 19th century unions were formed in Railways and certain other industries and many strikes organized. In 1866, Anglo-Indian Workers in Railways issued strike notice. ‘Amalgamated Society of Railway servants in India’ was formed in 1874 with 960 members. Strikes were organized in Nagpur Empress Mills as also in textile mills in Bombay and Ahmedabad in 1879. Strike took place in the jute mills in Bengal in 1895. Postmen in Poona went on strike in 1880.
The formation of Indian National Congress in 1885 and its activities gave encouragement and inspiration to people including the workers. Indian Telegraph Association (ITA) was formed in 1906. Almost at the same time Calcutta Postal Club was formed, which later was converted in to All India (including Burmah) Post Offices and RMS Association. All India Postmen & Lower Grade Union was formed at Bombay in 1919. Henry Barton, Babu Tarapada Mukherjee and V.G.Dalvi who took initiative in forming these unions and led them are treated as the founders of the P & T Trade Union movement. Within a short time, these unions strengthened and organized many strikes.
All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the first national trade union in the country, was formed on 31st October 1920. Jawaharlal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, S.A.Dange, Diwan Chamanlal and other leaders of Congress, Communists and Socialists were there in the forefront. It was a united organization.
Formation of AITUC was followed by formation of All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) in 1924, All India Audit & Accounts Association (1923), All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) and Income Tax Employees Federation (ITEF). Associations were formed in other central government departments also gradually. (To be continued).
Red salute to Karl Marx, the greatest philosopher world has ever seen, on his 203rd Birth Anniversary! ( 05.05.1818 – 14.03.1883).
The entire country is in the grip of Covid. Central and state governments have to ensure sufficient beds and treatment in the hospitals. Sufficient oxygen supply required. Central government should ensure that sufficient vaccine is provided, either by manufacture in the country or by purchase from outside. All this should be free to the people.
It is in time of crises that governments have to show its capability and action.
Dear Comrades and Friends, The central government employees and their organisations are observing the 60th anniversary of the heroic and historical strike of the 11th July 1960 Strike of the central government employees from 11th July 2020 for one year. That was the biggest strike in Independent India since then, which was brutally suppressed by the central government by invoking Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance and arresting tens of thousands of workers and putting them in jail. Thousands were terminated and dismissed from service. 14 comrades became martyrs. Com.P.V.Chandrasekharan and myself are in preparation of a book on this historic strike, which we propose to be published in July 2021. The book will be in Malayalam. Since this historical strike and its experience are part of the trade union movement in the country, I am going to serially post the same in English from tomorrow onwards in the Facebook and in my blog vannamboodiri.com It was very difficult to get all information about the strike, after a period of 60 years. But we have tried our best for the same. Any comrade who have got more information on the subject may kindly enlighten us. Also comments on the postings are also invited so that we can improve wherever necessary. V.A.N.Namboodiri
Many covid patients have died due to unavailability of oxygen in the last few weeks. Vaccine is also not available as required. Even the Supreme Court and many High Courts have admonished the central government for its lethargic attitude in making available these life saving essentials.
It is the demand all over India as that of state governments also that the Central government should make available sufficient quantity of oxygen and vaccine free.
BJP had stated that they will get about 35-40 seats in Kerala. In the last elections, they had one seat. This time Prime Minister Mr. Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and a lot of central ministers and all India leaders of BJP toured Kerala several times and conducted rallies and attacked the State Government. Central agencies like ED, CBI etc. were utilised to malign the state government.
But despite all these, BJP lost even its single seat also. Now BJP has no seat in the assembly. Kerala people has shown them their right place.