As per call of the Left Front, protest dharna with the demand to reduce the price of petroleum products being increased almost every day was organised through out the state, of course, maintaining covid protocol. In every ward, the demonstration was conducted d with 4 persons with posters in their hands with the demands printed/written. The protest was demonstration was from 04.00 to 05.00 PM.
The physical meeting of the leaders of the All Unions Associations of BSNL (AUAB) with the CMD BSNL Sri Purwar on the issue of non-payment of monthly salary in time etc. had its immediate result. The funds for payment of the salary for May 2021 has been released immediately. Delaying the payment of salary has been completely unjustified. Congratulations to the AUAB for its strong stand. The revival of BSNL is the most important issue now, without which even the claims of the employees and pensioners may be delayed further. The AUAB is well aware of the same.
In the name of Covid situation, the central government has frozen the increased DA of CG employees and pensioners for the period from January 2020 to July 2021 for long 18 months. This will come to more than Rs. 40,000 crore .Now that the period is over, the Government should order for payment of increased DA along with the arrears due to them. The pensioners, especially, are in dire straits as their meagre allowances are cut. Government should act without further delay. While concessions are given to all sections, the DA of the CG employees and pensioners were frozen.
Almost Rs. 20,000 crore are due from DOT/Govt to BSNL for the various expenses met by BSNL , which are actually to be met by DOT. These include the expenditure on salaries and pension contribution of officers who have been deputed to DOT from BSNL, Reimbursement of leave encashment of BSNL retirees, who were originally DOT employees and pertain to the period of their service in DOT, the price of the surrendered CDMA Spectrum, extra pension contribution paid, charges for BSNL services to the DOT /Government etc. All these will come to much more than Rs. 20,000 crores.
At a time when the financial condition of BSNL is critical, the government should ensure that these due to the BSNL are paid with out delay. This is very much necessary for the revival of BSNL
As per reports in the press, only a small portion of the people in India have been given vaccination against Covid so far. I am not citing the comparison with other countries. What actually required is to speed up the vaccination process so that all the people are vaccinated at the earliest.
The obstinacy and most negative attitude of the Central government in granting Pension Revision from 01-01-2017 due to BSNL pensioners is most unfortunate. The same is being denied on the plea that wage revision of BSNL employees has not taken place. The Pay Revision Committee has recommended 15% fitment and the same is to be granted to BSNL pensioners with out waiting for the Pay revision. Many pensioners who are eligible for pension revision have passed away and many more will pass away if the decision is further delayed.
As such, the central government should issue orders for pension revision for BSNL pensioners with 15% fitment without any delay. Covid pandemic situation can not be misused to deny their right for pension revision to the BSNL pensioners.
The dark memories of the draconian ‘National Emergency’ is still not forgotten. It was on 25th June 1975 that the President of India promulgated the ‘National Emergency’ at the instance of then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. In fact, the declaration was not because there was an emergency situation in the country, but only because there was a danger to the continuance of the Indira Gandhi government after the Supreme Court verdict nullifying her election. It was a fake emergency imposed upon the people to save Indian National Congress and Indira Gandhi.
The 1974 Railway Strike and various agitations by the workers, the strong protest against the anti-people decisions of the government followed by the Supreme Court verdict created a situation, where the ruling party was not in a position to digest. The panacea to pass over the crisis was the declaration of emergency. All political opponents were arrested and put in jail arbitrarily. Trade Union leaders were also jailed. The newspapers were silenced. They could not print any criticism of the government. Functioning of political parties and democratic institutions were literally prohibited. The police and the government machinery were utilised to crush any opposition to the ruling party and the government. It was a real dictatorship.
Leaders of central/state government employees’ unions were also jailed. The emergency prohibited and suppressed all kinds of protests and democratic rights of the people. The newspapers were gagged. Without screening by the government censors, no paper could be published. Meetings, demonstrations – all were prohibited. I was taken in to custody twice, but later released. It was difficult even to hold union meetings. There were spies, CBI, CID etc. every where to report any opposition to the emergency. Student leaders were arrested and jailed. NFPTE had to face a lot of victimisation.
The entire opposition parties united to fight against the National Emergency. Thinking that the entire opposition was derailed, Indira Gandhi declared General election in 1977 after about two years of emergency. But she was mistaken. The people who were suffering under emergency ensured that the Congress was utterly defeated. The Janatha government came to power. The dark days were over.
My own experience: Date: 25th June 1975
I was in the train along with a few other comrades going to Delhi from Kerala to attend a Convention of the Central Government Employees and Workers on 26th June 1975 to chalk out agitation programmes on the urgent demands of the workers. On alighting at New Delhi Railway Station, we found that there were a large number of police personnel. There was complete silence and people spoke in hushed voices only. Some comrades from Delhi came to us and told that National Emergency has been declared by the Government and it is not safe to stay where our accommodation was arranged. We were taken to the residence of Comrade Jyothirmoy Basu, CPI(M) leader and Member of Parliament. He had already gone underground to escape arrest. After reaching there, our comrades told about the explosive situation under the draconian emergency. We were told not to go outside, to avoid arrest.
However, I went to No.4, Ashoka Road,which was the bungalow allotted to Comrade A.K.Gopalan, M.P. I met Comrade Narikutty Mohanan there, who was the Delhi correspondent of Deshabhimani, the CPI(M) daily being published from Kerala. Incidentally at that time a call came from Ernakulam Telephone Exchange.There were no mobile phones at that time.Even STD was not available.Every trunk call was to be connected through Telephone Exchange only. It was fortunate that Comrade K.Prabhakaran, well known P and T leader called at that time. Since all press news were completely barred and communications through telephones and fax were all censured, there was no opportunity for Narikutty to give the latest report to the Deshabhimani in Kerala. When Prabhakaran contacted I asked him to connect Deshabhimani and Narikkutty gave detailed report about the declaration of emergency, the list of the arrested leaders and other information. And in the next day in Deshabhimani, all the news came with photos of the arrested leaders and a strong statement of leaders condemning Emergency. I was told later that Com. Narikkutty was taken into custody and questioned, but the police could not find how the news reached Ernakulam Deshabhimani, because there were no records of fax, trunk call etc.
Next day, I walked through Rafi Marg on the side of which is the Mavlankar Auditorium where the CGE convention was to be held. The entire area was cordoned and a large number of police were there.The convention was already banned and the leaders were compelled to cancel it. So the first taste of emergency for me was in Delhi only.
Later, so many leaders of CGE movement were arrested and put in jail till the end of emergency. Com. Prabhakaran was one among them. I was taken in to custody twice during the emergency and questioned for hours in the night, but was later released. The period of Emergency were black days for the entire country. No criticism of the government or the ruling party was allowed. It was a reign of terror. ‘India is Indira’ became the slogan of the sycophants. People were arrested and jailed without any reason. It was dictatorship. But resistance continued inside and outside.
During Emergency period, myself as Circle President and Com.T.V.Joseph as Circle Secretary of NFPTE E.III Union, went and met Kerala Chief Minister Shri C.Achutha Menon and requested for grant of parole to Com. V.A.Ouseph, NFPTE leader at Calicut, who was in jail, to attend to his sick mother. CM stated that he has no power in the matter and everything was decided by the Home Minister Shri K.Karunakaran only. We met Sri Karunakaran. When we introduced as representatives of the telecom Union, he became irritated. He cited an incident when a telephone operator refused to extend a trunk call he made to Smt. Indira Gandhi for more than six minutes. He told that ‘where I a Minister at that time, he would have been put in jail immediately.’ He also told that ‘all you union people are to be put in jail.’ We kept smiling, because we were interested in getting bail for Com. Ouseph. Fortunately he was given the parole as requested.
By 1977, Indira Gandhi felt that the situation is under control and election can be held. But her calculation failed. In the 1977 General Elections, Congress was routed out. For the first time in India, a non-congress government came in to power consisting of almost all opposition parties which won with thumping majority. The Shah Commission which was appointed to enquire in to the Emergency excesses gave a true picture of what the nation and the people suffered during the Emergency.
No Indian wants a recurrence of that draconian Emergency. But what happens at present gives a resemblance to the pre-Emergency days. RSS and Sangh Parivar with the full support of the government attacks the rights of the people to eat what they want, how to dress, whom to love, what to study etc. etc. The trend is similar to what happened in the early days of the Nazi rule under Adolph Hitler. Trade union rights are curtailed; Achieved benefits are taken away. Public Sector Units are sold for a song. Minorities are attacked under the open eyes of the authorities. Moves are afoot for the creation of a rightist Hindu Rashtra. The secular fabric of the nation is being torn and the dark forces are creating communal tensions.
The National Emergency of 1975-77 and its brutal suppression of people and their rights have not been forgotten. Nobody wants another or similar Emergency and attack on the people.
But what is happening now reminds of the ‘National Emergency -1975’. Even during this pandemic Covid period, corporates are given full freedom to exploit the people. Public sector units, including defence Ordnance Factories are going to be privatised. Railway, Air India, PSU Banks, all are in the line of privatisation. The Kisans and workers are on struggle for the last many months to ensure their existence against the attack from the anti-worker, anti-kisan policies. Freedom of expression is being made a crime.
Dark clouds are hovering over the sky. It is only through the determined mighty united struggle of the people that the recurrence of another Emergency can be avoided.
We learn from the past to defend our future!
Encouraging meeting of the AUAB held online yesterday. An encouraging meeting of the AUAB was held online on the 21.06.2021. General Secretaries / leaders of BSNLEU, NFTE, AIGETOA, SNEA, AIBSNLEA, FNTO, SEWA BSNL, BSNL MS, BSNL ATM, TEPU and BSNL OA participated. Non-disbursement of salary on the due date, heavy delay in BSNL’s 4G launching, issues related to BSNL’s revival and other issues of the employees were discussed. It is decided to convene one physical meeting of the AUAB at New Delhi on 01.07.2021 for finalising the charter of demands and programme of action. It is also decided to invite all the applicant unions and associations for that meeting.
BJP which declared in their electoral manifesto that they will bring the price of petrol from the then Rs.50 per litre to Rs. 40 per litre has increased it to to Rs. 100 during the last few years. Even while the international price of crude oil is reducing, Modi Government has increased the prices.
Protest actions are going on demanding reduction of petrol and diesel prices. The government should take note of the protests and reduces the prices of petroleum products.
Thousands of contract workers engaged in BSNL for years for removal of faults, expansion and developmental works etc are not paid their wages for about two years, in the name financial crisis. They are the lowest paid section in BSNL and manage their family with the meagre wages they get. They do not have any savings even for exigencies. Unable to maintain their families, more than a dozen workers have already committed suicide.
BSNL Casual Contract Workers Federation (BSNLCCWF) has been continuously taking up this issue with the BSNL management, but with no results. It is nothing but a crime on the part of the government and BSNL management to deny the due wages and arrears to these workers.
We demand that the BSNL management give maximum priority to this issue and ensure that the wages are paid without delay.