Due to anti-PSU and anti-worker policy of the central government, PSUs , one after another is being weakened, privatised or closed. BSNL is no exception. A PSU started with about 3.5 lakh workers, the staff strength at present is only 62,208. There has been no recruitment since 2017 , when a meagre 2682 workers were posted. Huge vacancies existed all the time.
Railways have not only withdrawn concession to senior citizens, but also has increased the cancellation charges. Much earlier, if a reserved ticket is cancelled before one full day before the travel, only reservation charges were charged as cancellation fee. Now even if the ticket is cancelled before 48 hours, extreme cancellation charges are levied.
I cancelled two reserved tickets online for Sleeper class for 29th July 2022 from Coimbatore to Kozhikode and the same was cancelled today ie. 6 days earlier. The cost of tickets were Rs. 350. The cancellation charges are Rs. 240/- and refund amount only Rs. 110/-. A Government Department can not fleece the travellers like this.
On this 15th July 2022, it will be nine years after the Telegraph Services were discontinued by the Govt of India.
Telegraphs was the fasted mode of communication for more than one century.
The Telegraph services were started in India 170 years back on 24th October 1851 with the first message sent from Calcutta to Diamond Harbour.
The history of telegraphs started long back. The electrical telegraph was invented in 1775. The first commercial telegraphs were introduced by the Western Railways in Britain in the 1830s. It was introduced in India in 1850s along with the Railways. The telephones were not invented and the fastest communication system was the telegraphs. Only the Britishers were employed both in Railways and in Telegraph Offices in the initial stages due to its utmost importance and secrecy. The Britishers used the telegraphs and Railways effectively to crush the First Independence War of 1857, which they called as ‘Sepoy Mutiny’. The Telegraphs grew fantastically during the second part of the 20th century and there were telegraph offices in all important cities and towns. In small places, the services were manned by the Postal officials called ‘Singnallers’, who kept the connection between the cities and the villages through telegraph wires.
Telegrams were sent by government as also by public to inform urgent and important news. The Central Telegraph Offices (CTOs) in the metro cities used to have about 100 or 200 telegraphists at the same time and round the clock. The telegrams were taken as official records in the court etc. It was authentic and clear. Since the charge for sending telegram was on the basis of the number of words, the message was constructed with minimum number of words. The message may be of great happiness or of sorrow like death or disease. The unions used to organise ‘Telegram Campaigns’ as a method of protest sending the same in large numbers to the concerned authorities.
In this connection, i remember that I have got the PMG Madras orders selecting me to the post of Telephone Oprator, order deputing to training class and then posting orders also.
After the growth of telephones and mobile services, the importance of telegraphs started to wane. By the second decade of 21st century it was almost limited to certain official messages. According to the government and the BSNL, there was much loss and it can not be continued as a viable service.
When the government decided to close the telegraph offices and telegraph/telegram services from 15th July, BSNLEU put up strong protest and organised protest meetings. As President of the BSNLEU, I went to Mumbai and Kolkata offices and held press conferences for getting the support of the people at large for continuing the services.
Telegraph is a heritage service and accommodated in heritage buildings in the big cities. CTO buildings in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata etc. are heritage buildings, which have to be maintained as such. Lakhs and lakhs of documents connected with the history of the Mughal, British rule etc. are there in the old documents of the telegraph offices. Just like Western Court building in Delhi is occupied by a hotel, there are proposals to turn these heritage buildings also in to such posh hotels. You can see that many of the historic palaces have already been converted in to hotels. Bombay CTO is now accommodating Bombay High Court.
A PLI case was filed in the court, but did not get any relief. It can only be said that the BSNL management had taken an unwise anti-people decision as also without taking in to confidence of the unions, which were trying to improve the services and make the company financially viable.
Despite all efforts to ensure that the telegraph services are kept as a token of the past, as in the case of trams in Kolkata, neither the government nor the B…
11/12th July 2022, is the Anniversary of two great strikes organised by the P&T and Central Govt employees – 76 th Anniversary of the 1946 P & T Strike and 62nd Anniversary of the 1960 CG Employees Strike.
One was against the inequalities, injustices and slavery imposed by the British imperialism as also on the basic rights of the workers ; the other was against the denial of natural justice, mininum wage and DA in independent India.
Many of the rights enjoyed by workers at present are the out come of those historic strikes. In 1946 Strike which extended for 22+ 3 days, British govt was compelled to agree to all the 12 demands raised in the strike. The strike in 1960 was suppressed with an iron hand by utilising all the brute machineries of the govt due to which the same was called off after 5 days by the leaders from the jail. This resulted in another one day epic struggle on 19th September 1968.
These three great strikes compelled the central govt to start negotiating machinery, recognition of the unions, grant of DA as per cost of living index, equality in leave, holidays, pension between officers and employees, introduction of family pension etc.etc. Even if suppressed and victimised, no struggle has been in vain.
After introduction of the globalisation- liberalisation- privatisation policy since 1991, the Central Govt is taking away one after another the rights achieved after hard struggles. The entrire trade unions led by the Central Trade Unions are on struggle path, the latest strike being on 28-29 March 2022, in which more than 30 crores workers participated.
On this anniversary of the glorious 1946 & 1960 strikes, while paying respectful homage to the martyrs who fought and sacrificed themseves for the future generations, let us pledge ourselves to March Ahead in the path shown by them with courage and determination!