Speech of the Indian Delegate at the First Asian Conference
Report to the Asia Pacific Regional Conference of TUI(P&R) Kathmandu, 3rd December 2016.
On behalf of the members of the All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association (AIBDPA) India, I convey my warm Greetings to the office-bearers of the TUI (P&R) and all the delegates who are present from the Asia-Pacific Region countries. My warm Greetings to Com. Mohan Bahadur K.C, Vice – President of TUI (P&R) and the Reception Committee, Kathmandu, who have made very nice arrangements for holding the Conference.
The revolutionary leader of the socialist world and former President of Communist Cuba Comrade Fidel Castro has passed away a few days back. He was a legend in his own time, who led the small island nation to Socialism despite all obstacles and attacks from USA, the leader of capitalism and imperialism. We are still remembering the speeches of the comrades from Cuba in the Barcelona Congress about the importance given to the senior citizens in Cuba, whether in their health, education, cultural activities etc. Our Red Salute to Com. Fidel Castro!
This is the first Asia Pacific Regional Conference being held after the formation Congress of TUI (P&R) held at Barcelonia, Spain in 2014. Many important developments have taken place after the Congress and all these important issues need to be discussed and necessary decisions taken.
Centenary of Great October Revolution
This Regional Conference is being organized during the 100th year of the Great October Revolution of 1917 which culminated in the formation of USSR, the first socialist country in the world. The centenary year is being celebrated, appreciating the great stride in all spheres by the socialist state, at the same time analyzing the reasons for its collapse later.
Though 8 years have passed since the 2007-08 recession, the world economy is yet to stabilize. Austerity measures continue in the European countries and elsewhere, causing curtailment of social expenditure and reduction of wages and pension. Unemployment is increasing with young men and women wandering jobless. Thousands of workers are being retrenched by MNCs. Developed nations like USA, UK etc. are putting strict restrictions on migrant labour due to unemployment in their own countries. The continued war and terrorism in the middle-east and nearby countries, created by imperialist intervention and sale of arms & ammunitions, have resulted in millions of refugees, without any where to go. Poverty is on the increase in many countries, with all the assets and funds being captured by the super rich, MNCs and powerful people. The working class has to study and analyze the entire situation so that mighty united struggles can be organized to defend the toiling masses and the exploited section of the society.
All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association (AIBDPA)
All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association is the organization of the Pensioners of the Department of Telecom and the pensioners of the Public Sector Company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). BSNL was formed as a Corporation (Public Sector Unit) in 2000carving out the service sector from the Department of Telecom, India, as part of the neo-liberal policy of the Indian government. The employees went on several strikes to stop the corporatisation. An agreement was reached by the recognized Federations, with the assurance from the government that BSNL absorbed DOT employees will be given government pension and financial assistance to the company. Pension is being paid by the government @ 50% of the last pay drawn.
There have been two pay revisions for the BSNL employees so far, once in 2000 and the next in 2007. The next revision is due from 01-01-2017. The pay scales in the Government and PSU are different. Government appoints Pay Commission to recommend the pay scales, allowances etc. for the central government employees. In PSUs like BSNL, a Pay Revision Committee is appointed for recommending the pay scales etc. for Executives (Officers) while pay scales etc. for employees (workers) are fixed after wage negotiations with the recognized union/s. Two such Pay Revisions have taken place both for the executives and Non-Executives. The scales are comparatively higher than the government employees.
BSNL recorded good profit for the first 9-10 years, but has posted loss for the last five years, due to the pro-private and anti-PSU policy of the government. All assistances assured to BSNL by the government have been stopped. BSNL Unions and Associations took great interest for providing better service and improved revenue. This has helped the company to post operational profit in 2014-15 and205-16.
The Unions & Associations have demanded early wage negotiation. But the management has taken the stand that this can be done only after the pay revision for executives.
The BJP ( Bharathiya Janatha Party) which came in to power in 2014, defeating ruling Indian National Congress, is continuing the same neo-liberal policies of Liberalisation Globalisation Privatisation, but more aggressively. 44 trade union laws are being reduced to 4 labour codes, taking away many of the rights won through years of struggle by the working class. The powers of Labour Department to inspect and check malpractices of employers are being curtailed.
Privatisation / Closure of Public Sector Units
Government has decided to privatize / close about 70 Public Sector Corporations, including BSNL. The government is granting liberal subsidies to the big corporates, but at the same time discriminating the government owned PSUs. Vacancies in the government / PSUs are not filled up. Unemployment is increasing. In these circumstances, all the Central Trade Unions together had called one day strike on 2nd September 2015 and on the same day in 2016. More than 18 crore workers have participated in the last strike. Government employees and BSNL Employees also participated in the strike. AIBDPA extended full support by participating in the demonstrations etc. The Central Trade Unions continue the struggle against neo-liberal policies.
The central government employees are continuing their agitation against the retrograde recommendations of the VII Central Pay Commission. The Indefinite Strike proposed on 11th July 2016 was deferred after government assurance to modify the recommendations. Since no improvement has taken place they have decided for a massive Parliament March on 15 December, 2016. AIBDPA has extended support to the same. The government employees may go on further agitation including strike, if the issues are not settled.
Government is moving to split BSNL by forming a subsidiary Tower Company with the intention of privatizing the same. This is completely opposed by the employees and notice has been issued by the Unions in BSNL for a strike on 15th December, 2016. AIBDPA has fully supported the strike and will organize massive demonstrations on the day.
Demonetization of Rs.1,000/- and Rs. 500/- currency notes
The demonetization of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 currency notes from 8th November 2016 in India has created a grave situation with acute shortage of cash even for day to day expenses. The move implemented in the name of acting against black money, corruption and terrorism has actually hit the day-today life of people. Parliament is unable to do any work due to strong protest by the opposition parties against the way the demonetization has been implemented. Agriculture, business, trade – all are adversely affected.
Struggle by Pensioners on their demands
In the case of government employees, Pension Revision is implemented along with their pay revision. But in the case of BSNL pensioners, it is not automatic and every time, the Cabinet has to take a decision. Against this injustice, employees and pensioners were compelled to resort to agitation. The latest issue was the denial by the government to implement 78.2% Industrial Dearness Allowance pension fixation. It was implemented in the case of employees with certain conditions, but not implemented to BSNL Pensioners. AIBDPA organized several agitations for securing the same and for removing the 60:40 condition, some of which are given below:
Mass Dharna in all districts on 29-08-2013.
Observation of Protest Day with Fax Message to Communications Minister on 25-10-2013
March to the Circle / District Office on 28-11-2013
March to the Sanchar Bhawan (DOT) Delhi on 20-11-2014 with more than 1000 pensioners and Memorandum to Secretary, DOT.
Post Card Campaign – Thousands of post cards to Prime Minister
Two Days hunger strike before CCA / CGMT offices on 21-22 July 2015.
Mass Dharna at District levels on 10-03-2016
Meeting the Communications Minister twice.
Submission before the VII Central Pay Commission
BSNL Unions/Associations organized two days strike on this and some other demands on 21-22 April 2015, which was a great success so also the strike on 27.11.2014 by BSNL Non-Executive Unions. Now this demand has been settled through the struggles organized. The strikes by the BSNL employees helped immensely to settle the issues. AIBDPA is functioning in tandem with the workers unions as it is of the firm perspective that basic issues of the pensioners could be achieved only through involvement and struggles by the workers organisations. But automatic Pension Revision, whenever Wage Revision takes place, is yet to be settled.
The present demands include restoration of Medical Allowance, Allotment of Staff-quarters to Pensioners at reduced rent, etc. These issues are being discussed with BSNL / DOT.
Government has passed an act by name PFRDA [Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Act] with the intention of changing the defined benefit statutory pension to government employees. New Pension Scheme (NPS) is implemented from 2004 under which, those recruited from 2004 will not get defined benefit statutory pension. Their pension is based on Provident Fund remittances. This is an injustice and discrimination. In the same way those recruited in BSNL (from 2000) also will get only EPS Pension just like NPS. A joint movement of all the stake holders against this draconian law is the need of the hour.
The Confederation of Central Government Employees & Workers as also BSNL Unions/Associations are demanding to restore Defined Benefit Statutory Pension to these employees also.
AIBDPA was formed in 2009. During the last 7 years, it has spread all over India with State (Circle) and District Branches. It is publishing a journal, “Tele Pensioner”, once in three months for supply to subscribers. AIBDPA is working in close contact with the unions of the workers.
AIBDPA is affiliated to NCCPA (National Co-Ordination Committee of Pensioners Association), an apex body in which many associations of Central Government pensioners are affiliated. AIBDPA participated in the founding Congress of TUI(P&R) at Barcelona and is affiliated to it. Com. V.A.N.Namboodiri, Advisor AIBDPA is a Member of Technical Committee of TUI (P&R).
We are happy to note that TUI(P&R) is active and has intervened in many of the struggles taking place in the world against cut in pension, pensionary benefits etc. Its interventions in the struggles in Spain, Greece etc, are well informed. It is happy to note that TUI(P&R) has been very active in the functioning of WFTU.
The news and reports being sent by Secretary General TUI (P&R), Comrade Quim Boix, through e-mail almost every day is very helpful to understand the happenings in the various countries and these are published in our website, www.aibdpa.com.
17th Congress of WFTU
The 17th Congress of WFTU held at Durban, South Africa during October 2016 has taken important decisions on the issues facing the working class and has also given the guidelines for the tasks ahead. The Platform of Action for the next five years include demands like Stable Full Time Employment for all, 35 hours working week, National Minimum Wage, right to collective bargain, Social Security for all, Protection of Right to Strike and for other democratic rights etc. It has also called upon the working class to fight against anti-worker privatization, strive for universal education, healthcare, housing, water, electricity etc.
Though a little late, due to reasons beyond our control, the Asia- Pacific Regional Conference is meeting now at Kathmandu. It is our task to bring all the Pensioners Associations / Unions in this region with the TUI(P&R). It is also preferable to form a small committee for the region to consult and implement the decisions of the Conference. A Bulletin with the news of the pensioners’ organizations and the condition of the pensioners in the various countries can be circulated.
We hope that this Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the TUI(P&R) will discuss all these matters and take fruitful decisions. Once again we thank the Reception Committee for the nice arrangements and the kind hospitality extended to all the delegates for accommodation, food etc.
With Revolutionary Greetings,
Advisor, AIBDPA, T 18 C, Atul Grove Road,
New Delhi – 110001 (India.)
Member Technical Committee, TUI (P&R)
Mob: 0091 9868231431 / Phone : 0091 11 23352848, 0091 11 23352849
E-mail : [email protected] / [email protected]