Sunday, March 17, 2013

BSNL Latest News-inf. by Ashok Hindocha M -94262 01999 M -94262 01999 BSNL Employees Union – 12 years of Struggles and Achievements by vannamboodiri BSNL Employees Union – 12 years of struggles and achievements (Part-1) 22nd March 2013 is the 12th Birth Anniversary of BSNL Employees Union, the mighty organisation of the BSNL workers. It was formed at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, in the National Convention of Telecom Employees held on 21-22 March 2001 in the presence of late Com. E.Balanandan, President, CITU, one of the beloved leaders of the working class. P&T Workers have been unionised since the early part of the 20th century. It was not easy to organise the government employees under the British imperialist rule. It was with great courage and personal sacrifice that Babu Tarapada and Henry Barton organised Postal and Telegraph workers respectively. Despite much harassment and victimisation the unions strengthened, organised struggles and achieved demands. V.G.Dalvi organised the Postal Union in the second decade. The Postmen strike of 1946, which is also treated as part of the Independence struggle, was historic in all sense. Although started on 11th July 1946 as a Postmen strike, within two weeks the entire P&T workers became part of the struggle and also it got support from the freedom movement. 14 out of the total 16 demands could be achieved by the end of the successful strike. This strike gave a new dimension to the movement and the need for unity of the P&T workers was instilled in the mind of the leaders and the workers. Consequently, the leaders of the existing unions discussed and the Union of P&T Workers (UPTW) was formed in 1947 by merger. In 1954, the National Federation of P&T Employees (NFPTE) was formed by realignment by merging all the existing unions in to 9 All India Unions federated with NFPTE at the apex. Com. B.N.Ghosh, popularly called Dada Ghosh, was the first Secretary General of the united organisation. The 5 days glorious strike of 1960 of the Central government employees was brutally supressed by the central government by treating it as a ‘Civil Rebellion’ and imposing the draconian ‘Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance’(ESMO), putting thousands of employees in jail and also dismissing, suspending, terminating and victimising tens of thousands of employees. But his could not deter the Central Government employees movement from going on a successful one day token strike on 19th September 1968 facing similar victimisation, arrests and confinement. As a result of these struggles, the government was compelled to appoint II and III Central Pay Commissions and revise the wages of the employees, formulate rules for grant of dearness allowance when the cost of living index increases etc. In the 1974 strike for Bonus in which the railway workers participated in lakhs and were brutally victimised, in which a part of the P&T employees under the leadership of Com.K.G.Bose participated, though supressed, resulted in the grant of Bonus in 1978 after the Janatha Government was formed at the centre. The difference in NFPTE started mainly on the approach to the issues as also the method to be adopted. One section of the leadership was of the opinion that the government policies need not be opposed but should try to settle the demands through negotiations and compromise only. The other section led by Com. K.G.Bose, N.J.Iyer, Adinarayana and others wanted to organise struggles, if the demands are not settled by the government. In the stiff contest in elections in NFPTE in 1970, the KG Bose group was elected. But the group led by Com. O.P.Gupta floated a parallel list in the next Federal Council and with the connivance of the Minister got recognition. Two NFPTEs functioned for a few years, but the urge for unity resulted in bringing both the groups together and unity was restored by 1976. Consequent to the bifurcation of the P&T Department in to Postal and Telecommunications in 1985, NFPTE was also bifurcated in to NFPE and NFTE. The revisionists led by Com. O.P.Gupta were in the leadership of NFTE. Differences cropped up in the organisation on issues as well as the compromise being made by the leadership including agreement on ban on creation of posts, surrendering posts for promotion etc. As a result, some of the office-bearers in the unions affiliated to NFTE including Coms. Moni Bose, V.A.N.Namboodiri, M.N.Reddy and J.Renganathan resigned from the office bearer posts protesting against the wrong line of the leadership. In the Bhopal All India Conference of the All India Telecom Employees Union Class III, contest took place and OPG leadership was defeated and Coms.V.A.N.Namboodiri and Moni Bose were elected as President and General Secretary respectively with other office bearers. Though the defeat was gracefully accepted by OPG, after six months, in connivance with the DOT, a dispute was created. The two groups of the union continued functioning separately. After the collapse of the USSR, the global political situation changed. The imperialists led by US started dictating and imposing their decisions on the underdeveloped and developing countries. The economic and foreign policies of Indian government also changed. Instead of the socialist pattern of society, the shift started towards capitalist line. The government started implementing the neo-liberalisation policy of Liberalisation, Privatisation and globalisation(LPG). The PSUs, called the ‘Temples of Modern India’ by the first Prime Minister of the country Jawaharlal Nehru, was treated under the new dispension, as the cemeteries of India. PSUs were disinvested and privatised by handing over the same to private companies for paltry sums. Privatisation became the important mantra of the government. The neo-liberalisation policy has its impact on the telecommunications also. Under the New Telecom Policy 1995, for the first time, private telecom companies were formed and the government granted them licence to provide mobile service, while denying the same to the Department of telecom. This was a starting point of discrimination against DOT and later MTNL and BSNL., the telecom PSUs formed as per the new policy of the government. The unions led by Coms. Moni Bose, V.A.N.Namboodiri, P.S.Raman Kutty, Pabitra Chakroborty and others formed a National Action Committee and organised many struggles against the anti-worker policies and decisions of the government. They participated in all the struggles organised by the central trade unions on the demands of the common workers. They also organised two strikes against the proposal of the government to form a telecom corporation carving out of the Department of Telecom. NFTE kept away from these struggles. Despite opposition from the workers and their unions, BSNL was formed on 1st October 2000. The corporatisation was made easy after the revisionist leadership of NFTE agreed for the same on certain assurance like government pension etc. It was the unions which formed the National Action Committee and organised many struggles against neo-liberalisation and privatisation before and in 2000, that called for the National Telecom Convention at Visakhapatnam on 21-22 March 2013. And as stated earlier, BSNL Employees Union with Com. J.N.Mishra As President, V.A.N.Namboodiri as General secretary and P.S.Raman Kutty as Dy. General Secretary with other office bearers were elected unanimously. Seven unions merged together to form the new union. Thus BSNL Employees Union was born on 22nd March 2001 at the Vishakhapatnam Convention/Conference. (To be continued).

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