Orissa Circle Branch of All India Association of IPs and ASPs had posted an open letter in this blog on 23.05.2010 requesting the General Secretary, AIAIASP to consider the question of joining the ensuing strike proposed by JCA.
In the meantime Com. K V Sridharan, GS of AIPEU, Class-III happened to visit Orissa on 27.05.2010 and the CS, AIAIASP, Orissa Circle Branch got an opportunity to have an informal interaction with him on 27.05.2010 evening. Discussion was held in a very cordial atmosphere in presence of Com. B Samal, Divisional Secretary, AIPEU, Class-III, Bhubaneswar Divisional Branch and his other team members who facilitated the interaction. Com. Sridharan was very positive in his attitude to accommodate the views of AIAIASP, Orissa Circle Branch. The CS, Orissa Branch also got an opportunity to have a brief telephonic conversation with Com. K Raghavendran, Secretary General, NFPE. The CS Orissa also facilitated a brief telephonic talk between Com. K V Sridharan ,GS, AIPEU, Class-III and Sri Roop Chand, GS, AIAIASP. Both the General Secretaries decided through telephonic talks to meet shortly in New Delhi to have a dialogue in the matter. Indication is that the NFPE will welcome IPs and ASPs joining strike with them and are willing to include some issues relating to IP and ASP cadre (including the issue of upgradation of GP of IPs with or without merger of IP and ASP cadres) in the charter of demands to be placed before the Govt.
The CS, AIAIASP, Orissa has now set the things on motion. It is upto the CHQ to take the proposal forward to give it a concrete shape in consultation with all concerned stake-holders including Circle Secretaries and CHQ members of AIAIASP.
One must be wondering why some elements in the IP and ASP cadre justify joining the strike call given by the JCA comprising of NFPE, FNPO and GDS Union. Outsiders will argue that Postal staff being a part of Central Govt. employees are now enjoying all the benefits as a result of implementation of 6th CPC Report and what makes them still dissatisfied to take recourse to strike which lack public sympathy and support. How come Postal staff justify their demand for more benefits when the quality of postal service has gone down and the Postal Department is incurring huge losses. Prima facie, such a perception may sound valid from outside view but from inside it is not at all the fact. Members of public need to be informed of the mess prevailing in the Department of Posts.
Now, the major issue which the staff side is confronted with is the shortage of staff to man different types of responsibilities at the field level. Situation has come to such a pass that offices with three clerical hands are running single-handed. The work pressure is showing its effect on the mental and physical health of the field level staff. Instances are there where staff could not be relived to attend funerals of their near relatives. Instance is also there where a staff has committed suicide as he could not cope up with the growing work pressure.
Take the case of IPs and ASPs who are considered as backbone of the Department as they are the people who put their heart and soul to implement the plan and policies of the Department. The senior officers always depend on them heavily for carrying out their duties. Previously, the main duties of IP line officials were to carry out inspections and visits of Post Offices, undertake investigations to loss and fraud cases, take care of administration in respect of GDS staff, formulate proposal for creation, abolition, upgradation, downgradation of Post offices, collect statistical data for review of establishment of post offices, make mail arrangement, conduct Departmental inquiries in Disciplinary cases, attend to miscellaneous enquiries etc. Now, in addition to their these traditional duties, they are engaged in work of business development, procurement of PLI policies, procurement of RPLI policies with the help of GDS staff and are given targets for these additional work. They are provided no clerical assistance for all these work. They are made to work in a sub-standard accommodation in Sub-Divisions without required infrastructure. Even, the post of orderly which was kept attached to sub-divisional head to help him carry out work meant to be done by Gr.D staff is taken away. As already mentioned in the posting in this blog, an IP is now getting GP less than that of clerical staff getting 3rd ACP. So much so, the GP of overseers of mails who are attached to sub-divisions are now equal to that of IPs in many cases. Yet, the Govt, is not willing to allow upgradation of GP of IPs to Rs.4600/- despite having full justification for it and though officials of equivalent cadres in other Departments have got it since November 2009. If there is no justification for upgradation of GP of IPs to Rs.4600/- why then the Department of Posts sent the proposal to MOF twice? If the IPs are not comparable with their counterparts in Income Tax and Central Excise Departments then what is the background for leaving 1/3rd IP vacancies for direct recruitment? IP line officials have resorted to prayers and petitions a number of times but they have got an increased feeling that the prayer and petitions have no value in India which boasts of democratic values but ignores it deliberately thereby indirectly encouraging agitational methods.
The IP line officials are there to implement the plan and policies of the Department. If the Department is incurring losses, it is due to the incorrect and unrealistic planning and wrong policies of the Department and other factors (including wasteful expenditure at higher level). Working class staff including IP line officials are putting their best of sincerity and efforts and toiling hard even much beyond their normal duty hours. If it is still not yielding desired results there is no point in blaming the working class. While the loss of the Department is mounting over the years staff side is given the blame. The Department of Posts is neither treated as a full-fledged commercial organisation nor a full-fledged welfare organization and the Govt. loves to run it as a mixture of both while putting the blame on its workforce for losses. The Department of Posts is regarded as a poor Department despite having a huge outstanding in shape of deposit in various savings schemes. As mentioned in an article recently published by the Business Standard postal savings bank schemes in financial year 2008 had total outstanding of Rs 3.4 lakh crore, which was second only to the deposits of the State Bank of India that stood at Rs 5.4 lakh crore. (ICICI Bank came third at Rs 2.4 lakh crore deposits).The article also mentions, “Right now it is the Government of India and the finance ministry that keep the postal department poor.” Hence, it is for the members of public to judge whether the Department of Posts is actually responsible for so-called losses and whether putting unbearable burden of work on the existing staff without restoring the required staff strength is justified.
If the Department is planning to bring in changes to make it more effective at the service of public at large, no body will oppose the changes. Change is the way of life and the one who does not change according to change of time time will have to perish. But the changes should not bring more miseries to the working class. The Department must also take representatives of working class into confidence. But it seems the Department is proceeding in the direction of increased outsourcing and acting against the interest of working class on unilateral decisions.
IP line officials are known for their unquestioned loyalty to the administration. But in return the Department is increasingly overlooking their genuine problems. There has been no cadre review and no increase of posts for IP line officials since 1981. The Department considers conferring Gazetted status to ASPs as a case of cadre review. If that is so, the so-called cadre review has provided no gain to ASP cadre. On the other hand, the Department has benefited from it by saving expenditure of lakhs of Rupees on Productivity Linked Bonus which was payable to ASPs when they were not conferred with Gazetted status. Now, the IP liner officials are getting GP less than the officials they supervise. The senior officers treat the IP line like bonded labourers. Their voices are suppressed through rampant disciplinary actions. They have no liberty to go on leave even at the time of need. As exemplified by recent instances in Orissa, leave supported by medical certificate can also be ordered to be treated as dies-non and written warning is issued for taking leave for a week without prior permission in an instance where the official was rushed to hospital for treatment of cardiac related ailment. These are some kind of favours the Department has retuned to IP line officials for their committed loyalty to the administration. The Department shows superficial sympathy to IP line officials in the matter of upgradation of their GPs as it is still sitting over the matter. It is mentioned that the Department had sent proposal for upgradation of GP of IPs to MOF twice but the MOF turned the proposal down. It is also informally mentioned that the Secretary (Posts) wrote demi-officially to Secretary (Expenditure) in the Ministry of Finance but the proposal was retuned from the level of an Additional Secretary in the MOF. Our senior officers show their might over IP line officials to prove that they are all powerful but one can imagine their position in relation to other Departments. If the Department has the sense of so much caring for IP line officials, why can’t its top management meet their counterparts in MOF to convince the genuineness of the reason for upgrading the GP of IPs?
Some IPs have gone to the extent of filing CAT cases to get the GP of IPs upgraded through orders of legal forum. It is good effort, no doubt. But with due regard to those IP line officials who have taken the recourse to CAT case, it is humbly suggested that they should view the Bollywood block-buster – “Lage Raho Munna Bhai” to get a clear picture as to what happens to legal battle in India. The film apart from having its entertaining value is educative and informative also.
In the Circle Conference of Orissa Branch held in January 2010, the issue of discrimination of Pay between IP line officials and their counter-parts in Income Tax and Central Excise and Customs Departments was mentioned by the CS. One of the Guests in his speech mentioned that the officials under Ministry of Finance will always have their way by virtue of working in the same Ministry which decides pay-related issues and they are more equal in status than other Ministries and Departments for several reasons. In a sense, he mentioned that the discrimination is inevitable. So, one can imagine the position here. It is not a factor how much labour you put in your job. The Department / Ministry you work in decides your fate. In that case where is the justice? You cannot even expect your legal battle to end in time. This is also quite natural because, as a matter of fact, you cannot justify your case for pay revision for taking precedence while so many other important cases suffer delay due to various reasons.
Practically, nobody in the Department is helping IP line officials in getting justice. Courts take their own time to deliver justice. Then what is the way out? It is upto the members of the IP and ASP cadres to decide as to how long they will suffer the negligence, apathy and discrimination? Is it not the appropriate time to be a part of mass agitation to show your protest? At least the Department will become aware that the unquestioned loyalty of the IP line officials cannot be taken for granted any more and will think of treating the IP cadre with some sense of respect which is very much absent now. It will also give a message to the JCA that the IP and ASP cadre is very much a part of their fraternity and they care for their feelings and share their miseries. After all, 2/3rd of the total strength of IP and ASPs take their root from the very same cadre with which they have to work all the way till their retirement. Hoping against hopes the IP line officials have waited so long for getting justice from the Department/ Govt. But they have got only injustice in return. They are even treated with less dignity than Gr. C staff. If the IP line officials have lost so many things all these years the loss of salary for some days due to joining the proposed strike will have a very little impact on them. If Gr C, D and GDS staff can bear the loss of salary why can’t the IP line officials do the same? As regards promotion, it is better not to speak of it. In fact, the position of officials availing promotions with addition of meagre sum to their salary is more miserable than those who do not get promotion.
In view of the above Orissa Circle Branch Association requests all concerned to take an appropriate decision in the matter in time. Circle Secretaries of different Circles who are visiting this blog are requested to offer their views and communicate the decision of their respective Circles to the GS.