The Economic Crisis of the 1928-30

The political map of the world changed vastly by the end of the First World War (1914-18). Economic crisis of unprecedented nature gripped the world.

As part of the measures to face the economic crisis, the British India Government reduced the pay scales of the Central Government employees w.e.f. 1931. Neither the unions were consulted, nor did any discussion take place. It was a unilateral decision of the government. The principle of ‘Equal Wage for Equal Work’ was abandoned. Reduced pay scales were imposed on the employees, who were recruited from 18th July 1931.

There were different and discriminating scales and grades for employees before 1920. In 1920, these scales were revised bringing some kind of similarity. The Hazilton Committee recommended time scales for P and T Employees.  The report was given after due consideration to the long hours of duty, night duties, special character of duties, job risks etc. In 1926, the scales of pay were revised after strong demand by the unions.

It is at this time that the government started taking many decisions to reduce the expenditure in the name of austerity. The Sir Kowvasji Jehangir Committee appointed by the government recommended retrenchment of large number of employees. Hence this Committee was known as “Retrenchment Committee”. In continuation, as stated earlier, orders were issued reducing the pay scales with effect from 1931.

The pay scales of Postmen were reduced from Rs. 30-1-50 to 27-1-45; almost 10% reduction. In the same way, orders were issued reducing all the pay scales, despite strong protest from the employees.

Reduction at the rate of ½ Anna for one Rupee was ordered in all pay scales below  Rs. 30.  1 Anna was reduced for Rupee for pay scales above Rs. 30. ( 16 Annas = 1 Rupee).  Government saved more than Rs, 2.75 crore through this reduction of pay scales. Along with this The Emergency Reductions Rules came in to force with effect from 8th December 1931.

Many cadre unions were formed since 1920 with the support of the administration so as to reduce the strength of the major unions and create disunity. When one union will go on struggle, some other unions will oppose it giving support to the government. It helped the government to sit tight without granting any demanded benefit to the workers. This is the time when the pay scales were reduced.

Strong resentment and anger arose among the workers. They realized that the government was misusing the lack of unity among the unions. Unity and struggle were necessary, they realized.

The All India Conference of the ‘All India Postal and RMS Union’ held at Delhi on 30th October 1931 adopted a resolution calling upon the employees to launch sustained struggles on the major demands of the employees. It called upon the employees to come to office without wearing shirts and to boycott work beyond  8 hours.

These programmes of agitation were implemented all over the country with effect from 1st January 1932. Employees attended office without wearing shirts.

Government was not sitting idle. Recognition of unions was withdrawn. Pay cut was imposed on those who went on agitation. The agitation was withdrawn unable to face the bitter victimization by the government. The recognition of the unions was restored on 24th March 1932.  But the problems remained unsettled.  (to  be continued).

THE EPIC STRIKE OF JULY 1946 BY P AND T EMLOYEES – 3

The Economic Crisis of the 1928-30

The political map of the world changed vastly by the end of the First World War (1914-18). Economic crisis of unprecedented nature gripped the world.

As part of the measures to face the economic crisis, the British India Government reduced the pay scales of the Central Government employees w.e.f. 1931. Neither the unions were consulted, nor did any discussion take place. It was a unilateral decision of the government. The principle of ‘Equal Wage for Equal Work’ was abandoned. Reduced pay scales were imposed on the employees, who were recruited from 18th July 1931.

There were different and discriminating scales and grades for employees before 1920. In 1920, these scales were revised bringing some kind of similarity. The Hazilton Committee recommended time scales for P and T Employees.  The report was given after due consideration to the long hours of duty, night duties, special character of duties, job risks etc. In 1926, the scales of pay were revised after strong demand by the unions.

It is at this time that the government started taking many decisions to reduce the expenditure in the name of austerity. The Sir Kowvasji Jehangir Committee appointed by the government recommended retrenchment of large number of employees. Hence this Committee was known as “Retrenchment Committee”. In continuation, as stated earlier, orders were issued reducing the pay scales with effect from 1931.

The pay scales of Postmen were reduced from Rs. 30-1-50 to 27-1-45; almost 10% reduction. In the same way, orders were issued reducing all the pay scales, despite strong protest from the employees.

Reduction at the rate of ½ Anna for one Rupee was ordered in all pay scales below  Rs. 30.  1 Anna was reduced for Rupee for pay scales above Rs. 30. ( 16 Annas = 1 Rupee).  Government saved more than Rs, 2.75 crore through this reduction of pay scales. Along with this The Emergency Reductions Rules came in to force with effect from 8th December 1931.

Many cadre unions were formed since 1920 with the support of the administration so as to reduce the strength of the major unions and create disunity. When one union will go on struggle, some other unions will oppose it giving support to the government. It helped the government to sit tight without granting any demanded benefit to the workers. This is the time when the pay scales were reduced.

Strong resentment and anger arose among the workers. They realized that the government was misusing the lack of unity among the unions. Unity and struggle were necessary, they realized.

The All India Conference of the ‘All India Postal and RMS Union’ held at Delhi on 30th October 1931 adopted a resolution calling upon the employees to launch sustained struggles on the major demands of the employees. It called upon the employees to come to office without wearing shirts and to boycott work beyond  8 hours.

These programmes of agitation were implemented all over the country with effect from 1st January 1932. Employees attended office without wearing shirts.

Government was not sitting idle. Recognition of unions was withdrawn. Pay cut was imposed on those who went on agitation. The agitation was withdrawn unable to face the bitter victimization by the government. The recognition of the unions was restored on 24th March 1932.  But the problems remained unsettled.  (to  be continued).