(Associate Member of National Federation of Postal Employees)
UNITED WE STAND,
TOGETHER WE CONQUER
Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
DEFERRING OF THE INDEFINITE STRIKE – CLARIFICATIONS
M. Krishnan, Secretary General,
Confederation of C. G. Employees & Workers
We are in receipt of messages and emails from our grass root leaders and workers conveying their concerns over the decision of NJCA to defer the indefinite strike. Comments are circulated in other social medias like whats app etc. also. As it is not practically possible to reply to all the queries and comments, to put the record straight, we are clarifying below the common points raised by most of our comrades and well-wishers. We sincerely thank all those leaders, comrades and well-wishers, who have conveyed (and still conveying) their views, opinions, criticisms and concerns to the confederation CHQ.
1.CONVEYING THE DEFERMENT OF THE STRIKE EVEN BEFORE THE NJCA FORMALLY ANNOUNCED IT:
NJCA has taken serious note of this incident and shall take precautionary measures in future.
2.WHETHER IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CABINET DECISION ON 7TH CPC RECOMMENDATIONS WILL BE DELAYED FURTHER FOR FOUR MONTHS
The question of keeping in abeyance the implementation of the Cabinet decision on 29th June 2016 regarding 7thCPC recommendations, till the High Level Committee submits its report to Govt, was discussed in the NJCA meeting. It is decided that NJCA should not demand it, as the employees may be put to hardship, especially those who are in the verge of retirement. Com Shiv Gopal Misra, Convenor, NJCA has confirmed from the Finance Ministry that Govt notification on 7th CPC recommendations is under process and it will be issued shortly, payment may be made from August salary.
3.WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMPOWERED COMMITTEE CONSTITUTED EARLIER AND THE NEW HIGH LEVEL COMMITTEE?
The new High Level Committee is the product of the discussion held by Group of Ministers including Home Minister, Finance Minister and Railway Minister with NJCA leaders after announcement of the Cabinet decision, in the wake of an impending indefinite strike. Govt is compelled to appoint the new Committee, as the decision taken by the Govt on the proposals submitted by the Empowered Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary (details of proposals of ECoS is not known to staff side) is not acceptable to the NJCA. Hence the new Committee shall be to reconsider the decision of the Govt. especially regarding minimum wage and fitment formula. Inspite of the assurance of the Groups of Ministers that the Committee is being constituted to reconsider the Govt. decision, if the Govt. again reject our demand, the NJCA have to reconsider its stand and deferred strike shall be revived.
4.POSITION REGARDING ALLOWANCES
All allowances including HRA, transport allowance, fixed medical allowance to pensioners etc. are referred to a committee headed by Finance Secretary. Committee shall submit its report within four months. Pending final decision based on the report of the Committee, all existing allowances to be paid as per the existing rates in existing pay structure. Govt. may try to deny arrears of revised rate of allowances by implementing it from prospective date as in the past. This issue will be further discussed by the NJCA with the proposed Committee.
5.WE WOULD HAVE GOT A BETTER SETTLEMENT IF NJCA HAS GONE AHEAD WITH THE INDEFINITE STRIKE
All of us are aware that NJCA is not a monolithic, composite organization. It is a united forum of independent organisation. Each Federation has its own identity and individuality and take decision as per the direction of the managing bodies of each organization. Hence different views may emerge in the NJCA, but final decision is taken by consensus. If each organization stick on to its own stand and others to follow it, there is no question of consensus and NJCA will not exist.
With all its inherent weakness and limitations, the NJCA has successfully challenged the NDA Govt’s stand that there is no negotiation with the staff side on the 7th CPC recommendations. Govt. thought that once the Cabinet decision is announced unilaterally, followed by unleashing of well-orchestrated media propaganda that big bonanza is given for Central Govt. Employees, the NJCA will be forced to withdraw its indefinite strike decision. But the calculation of the Govt went wrong. NJCA took a firm stand that unless and until the retrograde recommendations especially minimum wage and fitment formula is modified, there is no question of withdrawing the strike. All the Federations are firm on this demand which ultimately compelled the Hon’ble Prime Minister to intervene. (NJCA has written to Hon’ble Prime Minister for intervention even before the Cabinet decision, but the Govt. ignored the NJCA’s appeal at that time). As per the direction of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Home Minister Sri Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Sri Arun Jaitly and Railway Minister Sri Suresh Prabhu discussed the main issues raised in the Charter of demands with NJCA leaders, and assured that Govt. will appoint a High Level Committee to reconsider the decision of the Govt., especially on minimum pay and fitment formula. This assurance was given with the approval of Hon’ble Prime Minster.
Inspite of it, the NJCA has not deferred the strike and insisted written confirmation of the assurance regarding constitution of High Level Committee. Again Hon’ble Home Minister Sri Rajnath Singh called the NJCA leaders and reiterated the earlier assurances and informed that the Finance Minister will issue a press statement confirming the assurance given to NJCA. Only after receipt of the copy of the press statement issued by the Finance Ministry, NJCA has deferred the strike till the finalization of the report of High Level Committee.
As the Hon’ble Prime Minister of our country has intervened and as three Cabinet Ministers of Govt. of India discussed the demands with NJCA leaders and gave assurance that the demands, especially minimum pay and fitment formula will be reconsidered, and as the Home Minister has again reiterated the assurances to NJCA leaders and Finance Minster has issued press statement confirming the constitution of High Level Committee, the NJCA felt that before embarking upon an indefinite strike which is the last weapon in the hands of the workers, we should give time to the Govt. to implement the Minister’s assurances given as per the direction of the Prime Minister and honour its commitment given to NJCA leaders. NJCA taking a stand that we don’t believe the Ministers and their assurance and shall go ahead with the strike, may not be taken in good spirit by the general public and the media. In case the Govt. backs out from its assurances, the NJCA has got every right to revive the deferred indefinite strike.
Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, Convenor, NJCA has made it clear in the circular issued on 7th July 2016, which reads as follows: -
“Though there is positive assurance from the Govt. of India, but all of you will not take rest and assume counseling the cadre and ground staff that they should remain in full preparedness, because if there will not be SATISFACTORY OUTCOME, we will be having no alternative except to agitate the issues again.”
6.WHAT ABOUT PARITY IN PENSION? WILL IT BE IMPLEMENTED AS THERE IS A CLAUSE IN THE GOVT DECISION THAT THE PROPOSED COMMITTEE WILL EXAMINE THE FEASIBILITY OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OPTION No I, ie PARITY IN PENSION TO PAST PENSIONERS
This issue was raised before the Group of Minister by Com. K. K. N. Kutty, who is also the Secretary General of NCCPA (National Co-ordination Committee of Pensioners Associations). It was pointed out to the Finance Minister that even though the Govt. has decided to accept 7th CPC recommendation to have two options to pensioners, it is qualified with the words “subject to feasibility.” The Finance Minister categorically assured the delegation that the Govt. has accepted the recommendations in toto and the Pension Department has only been asked to sort out the difficulties in implementation of the Option-No-I, if any.
7.WHAT ABOUR DEMANDS OF THE GRAMIN DAK SEVAKS, AS NJCA IS MORE CONCERNED WITH MINIMUM PAY FITMENT FORMULA ONLY
Any increase in the minimum pay and fitment formula for departmental employees (MTS, Postman & PA) will be extended to Gramin Dak Sevaks also proportionately as the GDS Pay Scales are decided based on the pay scales of corresponding category of departmental employees. So, the demand to increase minimum pay and fitment formula of MTS, Postman and PA is equally important for GDS also.
As regards, civil servant status the NJCA has raised this demand before the Govt and 7th CPC. Even though the 7th CPC Chairman, Retired Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur has informed the JCM staff side leaders he will not consider the GDS case as they are not included in the terms of reference of the Commission, the Chairman gave a very damaging recommendation to the Govt. that GDS are not Civil Servants but they are part – time employees and Extra-departmental agents. He further stated that all the GDS are having another main independent income from another source and GDS job is only a side-business. NJCA leaders have raised the issue of GDS before the Cabinet Secretary’s Committee and also before the Group of Ministers. We shall again raise the issue before the proposed high level committee also. Govt. has constituted a separate committee for GDS under the Chairmanship of Retired Postal Board Member Sri Kamalesh Chandra. NFPE, AIPEU-GDS and Confederation has submitted detailed memorandum before the Committee and Secretary General NFPE Com. R. N Parashar, General Secretary AIPEU-GDS Com, P. Panduranga Rao along with other leaders has given evidence before the GDS Committee demanding Civil Servant status. The GDS committee will submit its report before December 2016. Further NFPE and AIPEU-GDS has filed a case in the Supreme Court for grant of Civil Servant status. Supreme Court has transferred the case to Delhi High Court which in turn transferred it to Principal Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal, Delhi. The final argument of the case will take place on 25th July 2016. NJCA, Confederation, NFPE and AIPEU – GDS are jointly trying their level best to get justice to three lakhs Gramin Dak Sevaks of the Postal Department. If the GDS Committee report is against the GDS, then definitely NJCA and Confederation will be fully supporting the agitational programmes of NFPE & AIPEU-GDS including indefinite strike.
The main hurdle is the policy of the NDA Govt. as the Communication Minister of NDA Govt. has rejected our demand for grant of Civil Servant status to GDS.
Report of the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) headed by Retired Supreme Court Justice, Ashok Kumar Mathur was submitted to Government on 19th November 2015 after 21 months. The Union Cabinet announced its decision to implement the recommendations on 29th June 2016. Through the press release circulated to media and the statement of Finance Minister, the Government made a calculated move to create an impression among the public that the Modi Government is magnanimous enough to extend big bonanza to the Central Government employees. Eventhough, immediately after submission of the 7th CPC report, the Joint Council of Action of Central Government Employees (NJCA) representing Railways, Defence and Confederation including Postal had submitted a memorandum to Government demanding modifications of the retrograde recommendations of the 7thCPC, the Government while announcing its decision, rejected all the demands raised by the staff side.
The 7th CPC recommended only Rs.18000/- as minimum pay by arbitrarily modifying and manipulating Dr. Aykroyd’s Need based minimum wage formula on untenable premises and incorrect data. The main demand of the NJCA is to re-compute the minimum wage on the basis of actual commodity prices as on 01.07.2015 and factor Dr. Aykroyd formula stipulated percentage for housing, social obligations and children’s education etc. and to revise the fitment formula and all pay scales on the basis of the so determined minimum wage. The methodology adopted by 7th CPC is irrational, imaginary and even absurd.
The Government’s claim that big increase is given to the employees is totally false. In para 4.2.9 of the report, the 7th CPC has given a table depicting the percentage of increase provided by the successive pay commissions appointed after independence. According to the table, the 2nd CPC has made a paltry increase of 14.2.% (1960), the 3rd CPC gave a rise of 20.6% (1973), the 4th CPC 27.6% (1986), the 5th CPC 31% (1996) and 6thCPC 54% (2006) whereas the average increase granted by 7th CPC is only 14.29% (2016), while the percentage increase had been in ascending order all along, the 7th CPC has sought to reverse that trend. The megre increase recommended and accepted by the Government without any change is the worst ever any pay commission has recommended since 1960. In 1960 five days historic strike of entire Central Government employees took lace demanding modifications of 2nd CPC recommendations.
Another claim of the Government is that it has accepted the recommendations of the 7th CPC to increase the existing salary by 2.57 times !!!. This is a totally misleading propaganda. The existing basic pay of a lowest level employee of the Central Government called Multi-Tasking staff (MTS) is 7000 plus 125% Dearness Allowance as on 01.01.2016. Thus the total salary as on 1st January 2016 is 7000 + 8750 DA = 15750. The Minimum pay recommended by 7th CPC is 18000 i.e; the actual increase in salary is Rs. 2250/- only at the lowest level. The fitment factor of 2.57 is worked out excluding the 125% DA an employee is getting at present. As the next wage revision takes place only after ten years in 2026, the above increase of 2250/- in the salary is megre.
In the past, every time, either before or immediately after the appointment of pay commissions, the employees are granted DA merger, Last time, before appointment of 6th CPC, Government has granted merger of 50% DA in 2004 and the merged DA is treated as Pay for all purposes. This time no DA merger is granted. Suppose, as in the past, the Government has accepted the demand for merger of 50% DA as on 01.01.2011 when DA crossed 50%, the total salary of an employee at the lowest level as on 01.01.2016 will become Rs.18395/- (7000 + 50% DA 3500 = 10500 + remaining 75% DA as on 01.01.2016 Rs.7875 = 18395). Thus it can be seen that even if no pay commission is appointed by Government, simply by granting DA merger alone the lowest level salary will become more than 18000/- which is recommended by 7th CPC after 21 months study and spending crores of rupees for its functioning.
The Government’s press release further claim that the ratio between lowest and highest salary (compression ratio) is 1:3.12. The highest level employees are Cabinet Secretary and Secretaries of various departments. The recommended salary of the Cabinet Secretary is 2,50000. Government deliberately avoided comparison between salary of lowest employee and highest level employee, instead compared with middle level Class-I officer only. Actual ratio between the lowest and highest salary come to 1:14 (18000:2,50000). No other pay commission has recommended such a huge margin.
Other retrograde recommendations of the 7th CPC are as follows:
1.House Rent Allowance (HRA) rate reduced from 30%, 20% and 10% to 24%, 16% and 8%
2.52 existing allowances are to be abolished.
3.All interest-free advances including Festival advance, are to be abolished. Only interest bearing advances to be retained.
4.Salary for the second year of Child care leave granted to women employees should be reduced to 80%.
5.For Three Time bound promotions (Assured Carreer Progression) passing examination and other conditions made mandatory.
6.New Pension Scheme (NPS) shall continue, recommended only some cosmetic changes.
7.Contractorisation and casual labour System shall be continued.
8.Outsourcing of Government functions to continue.
9.Employment of retired personnel to be legalized and panel of experienced retired personnel should be kept ready.
10.Filling up of vacancies – commission pointed out that there are six lakhs unfilled vacancies in Central Government services, but no recommendations for filling up the vacancies in a time bound manner by special recruitment.
11.Regularisation of Gramin Dak Sevaks of Postal department – rejected.
12.Increase in minimum pension percentage, Fixed medical Allowance to Pensioners and increment rate – rejected.
Inspite of several round of country wide agitational programmes conducted by NJCA including massive Parliament March, the NDA Government refused to negotiate the demands with the staff side, but declared unilateral implementation of the recommendations without any modifications. The resentment, anger and protest of the entire Central Government employees increased day-by-day and the NJCA decided to go ahead with indefinite strike from 11th July 2016 and preperations and campaigning for making the strike a thundering success went on in full swing. Modi Government understood that if it still refuse to discuss with the NJCA then from 11th July 6 AM onwards the entire Central Government establishments including Railways, Defence, Postal and other departments. will come to standstill marking the commencement of the biggest strike action of the Central Government employees.
It is in this background the Hon’ble Prime Minister directed three Cabinet Ministers including Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitly and Railway Minister Shri. Suresh Prabhu to hold discussion with the NJCA leaders on 30th January 2016. Major demands in the Charter of demands were discussed with particular reference to Improvement in Minimum wage and fitment formula. Issues relating to parity in pension was also discussed. Finally the Ministers assured that a high level committee will be appointed to consider the issues raised by the NJCA.
As no written minutes or communications is forthcoming from the Government regarding the 30th June discussion and assurances, the NJCA decided to go ahead with the strike. Country wide demonstrations were held daily in front of all offices and at all important centres. On 6th July 2016 when the NJCA meeting was in progress, Hon’ble Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh again invited the NCA Leaers for discussion. The Minister reiterated the earlier assurances and told that Finance Minister will issue a press statement making the Government stand clear on the demands.
Accordingly, the Government issued a press statement on 6th July 2016 in which it is stated that – “The Ministers assured the Union leaders that the issues raised by them would be considered by a High Level Committee.”
Thus, the unite struggle of the entire Central Government Employees compelled the unwilling NDA Government to accept the reality that modification in the 7th CPC recommendations is a must and before arriving at a final conclusion the staff side should be given a fair chance to present and discuss the case with the Government. It was assured that the proposed High Level Committee to be appointed by the Government shall complete its task within a time frame.
Advancement in the wages and service conditions of Central Government Employees can be achieved only through the united struggle of all Central Government employees for which the unity built up under the banner of NJCA is to be maintained and strengthened. Further the neo-liberal policy offensives of the NDA Government in the Central Government Employees Sector including privatisation, outsourcing, downsizing, contractorisation, corporatization, winding up of departments, New Pension Scheme etc. can only be resisted and reverted by building up united movement of the entire employees. Eventhough the strike is deferred, the Central Government employees shall continue its united struggle against the anti-people and anti-labour policies of the NDA Government. We should self-critically analyze the strength and weakness of the NJCA and shall arrive at proper conclusion for taking corrective measures, if necessary, and also for further unity and advancement. The final outcome of the united struggle is, no doubt, one step forward.
Government assures Representatives of Unions representing employees of the Central Government that the issues raised by them relating to the pay scales and other recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission would be considered by a High Level Committee
Representatives of Unions representing employees of the Central Government had met the Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh, the Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley and the Minister for Railways Sh. Suresh Prabhu in the evening of 30th June, 2016. They had requested that certain issues raised by them in relation to the pay scales and other recommendations of the Pay Commission be allowed to be raised before a Committee of Secretaries looking into different aspects of grievances of employees in relation to the Pay Commission recommendations. The Ministers assured the Union leaders that the issues raised by them would be considered by a High Level Committee.