Tuesday, December 22, 2020

                                             NATIONAL  PENSION  SYSTEM (NPS)


M. Krishnan

Ex-Secretary General, NFPE &

Confederation of Central Govt. Employees & Workers

(Paper presented in the National Webinar organised by AIPRPA
on 17-12-2020)

              Fourth Central Pay Commission headed by the Retired Justice of Supreme Court of India Shri. Ashok Singhal, made the following observations regarding pension in para 2.13 of Part-II of its report:

              “The concept of pension, however old in its origin, had the latent and real desire to provide for an eventuality - known and unknown.  The known eventuality was old age and probable reduction in earning power, while unknown eventuality was disability by decease or accident or death.  It’s real purpose was security, social security.  Eventhough the begining was oblique, indiscernible and faint, but the germ of an effort to provide security ran through the provision and it is natural that it should have grown and flowered with the development of human understanding and desire to look after and provide for those who deserve it, for, man has constantly been seeking means by which to enhance his economic security.”

              Payment of pension to Government employees strted in Europe for the first time in Nineteenth Century.  It’s genesis can be traced to the first Act of Parliament in United Kingdom (Britain) in1810, to be concerned with the provision of pension generally in Public Offices.  The Act which sustantively devoted itself exclusively to the problem of Superannuation pension was passed in 1834, called Superannuation Act 1834.  These are landmarks in pension history because they attempted for the first time to establish a comprehensive and uniform scheme for all, whom we may call civil servants.  In England, the basic social security pension was introduced from the year 1946.  In USA the pension was first introduced as a social security scheme.  It was thereafter, that the Civil services retirement pension system was introduced in USA in 1920.  In fact, social security in old age commended itself in earlier stages as a moral concept, but in the course of time it required legal connotation. 

              In India the first pensioner’s Act was introduced in 1871.  Under the Pensioners Act 1871,  enacted during the British Regime, Pension is a bounty given as a matter of grace, depending on the sweet will of the employer and was to be paid by the Collector or the Deputy Commissioner or other authorised officer.  Initially this class of Pension appears to have been introduced as a reward for loyal service.

              In the course of transformation of society from feudal to welfare state and as socialistic thinking acquired responsibility, states obligation to provide security in old age, an escape from undeserved want, was recognised and as a first step, pension was treated not only as a reward for past service, but with a view to helping the employee to avoid destitution in old age.  The quid-pro-quo was that when the employee was physically and mentally alert, he/she has rendered unto the master the best, expecting the master to look after him in the fall of life.

              After Independence of our country, just like every citizen of our country, Pensioners also expected positive changes in the attitude of the National Government towards ,the issues of pensioners and improvement in the Pension structure.  But nothing of that sort happened.  Instead, the very same attitude of the British Government was followed and pensioners became a neglected lot, a category of unwanted people, a non-productive financial burden, a head-ache to the Government.  Once an employee retires from service, the nexus between him and the Government was broken.  Problems of pensioners were being placed at the lowest position in the priority list, instead of seriously considering them on top priority basis.  The Government mostly remained adamant, refused to budge, turned a deaf ear to the problems of pensioners.  In the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Central Pay Commission’s terms of reference, revision of pension structure and other pensionary benefits of the Central Government employees was not included.  Poor Pensioners could not ventilate their grievances and they could not demonstrate as there was no organised movement of pensioners at that time.  Most of the poor pensioners prayed to the God to improve their lot.

              Inspite of acknowledging the right to pension in Article 366(17) of the Constitution of India, in reality no preference was given to pensioner’s till 1982.  1982 became a turning point in the history of Pensioners in India.  It is in that year, Honourable Supreme Court of India upheld the right to Pension.  The historic judgement in the Nakara case, which is called the magna carta of pensioners, was delivered on 17-12-1982 by the five member constitution bench of the Hon’. Supreme Court of India.  I am not going into the details of the Judgement, as my collegue Com: K.Raghavendran has already dealt in detail, the important aspects of the judgement.

              It is at that time, in 1983, Central Government appointed 4th Central Pay Commission.  Inspired by the historic judgement, Pensioners Associations, big and small, sprang up at all important cities of the country.  The National Council, Staff side of the Joint Consultative Machinery, of the Central Government serving employees also siezed of the importance of the judgement.  Just like 1st, 2nd & 3rd Central Pay Commissions  in the terms of reference of the 4th Central Pay Commission also, there was no mention about revision of pension and other pensionery benefits of Central Government employees.  Combined demand of National Council (JCM) staffside and the Pensioners organisations compelled the Government to amend the terms of reference of 4th CPC and the following item was also incorporated in the terms of reference.

              “to examine the existing pension structure including DCRG and making recommendations which may be desirable and feasible”.

              Fifth Central Pay Commission headed by Retired Supreme Court Justice (Shri) S.Ratnavel Pandian made the following observation regarding pension.

              “Pension is their deferred wage.  Pension is their statutory, inalienable and legally enforceable right and it had been earned by the sweat of their brow”.

              In the year 1971, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while disposing the case pertaining to Deokinandan Prasad Vs. State of Bihar, declared that pension is a property under Article 31(1) of the Constitution and by a mere Executive order, the state had no power to withhold the same.

              Fourth Central Pay Commission in para 2.3 of the Part-II Report, reiterated as follows:-

              “Pension is not by way of charity or an ex-gratia payment, or a purely social welfare measure, but may fairly be said to be in the nature of a “right” which is enforceable by law”.

              As already mentioned consequent on pronouncement of Nakara Judgement by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the Government was compelled to include the clause regarding revision of pension and pensionary benefits, in the terms of reference of 4th and 5th Central Pay Commission.  But when it came to 6th Central Pay Commission, the terms of reference was modified as follows:

              “To examine the principles which should govern the structure of pension to the present and former Central Govt. Employees appointed before 1st January 2004.”

              Thus the revision of pension and pensionary benefits of Central Govt. Employees appointed after 01-01-2004, was completely excluded from the purview of 6th Pay Commission.

              The reason for this change is that the Govt. of India has introduced a New Contributory Pension Scheme for the Central Govt. employees who joined service on or after 01-01-2004.

Pension Refeorms in India and New Contributory Pension Scheme (NPS):

              Consequent on implementation of neo-liberal globalisation policies in 1980s, Pension privatisation offensives has engulfed the workers and employees almost all over the world.  Govt. of India also faithfully followed the international dictates of the world capitalism.  Union Finance Minister of the erstwhile BJP Govt. ie. A.B.Vajpayee Government in its budget speech 2001-02 envisaged a new Pension Scheme based on defined contribution instead of defined benefit, to new entrants entering Government service.  As a sequel to the above announcement  a High Level Expert Group was constituted on 25th June 2001 to review the existing pension scheme and provide roadmap for introducing a new pension system based on defined contributions.  Based on the recommendations of this committee called “Bhattacharyya Committee on pension reforms”, the BJP Govt. issued an order on 17-12-2003, under the title “New Pension for those appointed on or after 01-01-2004”.  Government of India promoulgated an ordinance on New Pension Scheme (NPS) on 4th December 2004 to give legislative sanction to the order.  Most of the State Government in India also followed the suit.  Govt’s repeated attempt to pass an Act in parliament could not succeed  due to  stiff opposition of left parties who supported the then UPA Government in power.  Finally when a Government without the support of Left Parties came to power the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act (PFRDA Act) was passed in the Parliament on 2013 September 18th.

Political and Economic background of the New Pension System (NPS).  The concept of privatized and individual pension account and Private Fund Managers arose in the mid-eighties in Europe and United States, when the economy of these countries ,suffered from a serious recessionary situation.  In Europe, the Government and Corporate sector thought of this change in concept and implementation of Pension reforms largely by promoting a gradual switch over for providing “Pensions” through funded schemes - ie; from defined benefit to defined contribution, either managed by or on behalf of employing companies (known in Britain as occupational pension scheme) or else on an individual basis (Personal pensions).

              Official propaganda sought to justify this to the public on the grounds that the cost of tax payers on the state funded schemes is no longer affordable and the pension fund scheme can provide finance for productive investment and economic regeneration.  The idea was that this private individual finance, collected as pension contribution from the employees, when invested will boost ,the declining share market and help economic revival.  In fact, the impetus behind the switch over towards funded pension schemes came from politically powerful vested interests in the financial sector (ie. corporates) who were anxious to strengthen and perpetuate the importance and profitability of their own “industry”, thereby also increase the size of the “wall of money” which helps to prop up the market value of their financial securities and other assets.

              Naturally, those who also promote such increasing flows of funds into financial markets (share markets) did not care to dwell on the likelihood that supply of funds may be rapidly out-stripping the demand, and that there is consequent risk of serious losses to investors (here in the case of Pension fund investors are employees) and the collapse of the financial institutions.  In reality, any benefit supposed to depend on the vagaries of share market is always vulnerable to total ruin.  This happened during 2008 world recession.

              At the begining of 1980’s, the International Monetory Fund (IMF) and World Bank, seriously took up the cause of privatised Pension Scheme and consequent Pension Funds and burnt mid-night oil to make a number of studies and set up various working groups.  Publishing of the India specific report released by World Bank in April 2001 titled - “India - Challenge of old age income security” was followed by another report ‘ “IMF working paper on Pension reeforms in India” published in September 2001.  The reports clearly stated that Pension obligation (ie. obligation of the Government to pay pension as per the Pension Rules) or promise ,made by the Government, which has potential on exerting pressure on Government finance, has been the focuss in assessing medium to long-term fiscal sustainability.  In tune with the above neo-liberal dictates of the IMF and World Bank, in the 2001-2002 Budget spech of Finance Minister of then BJP Government made the observations the Central Govt.’s Pension liability has reached unsustainable proportions and hence it is high time that a new contributory pension scheme is introduced for the Government servants entering the Central Government services.

              It is quite clear that what the Government of India was trying to do by introducing the so called “New Pension Scheme” was nothing but faithfully following the pro-corporate pension reforms in toto and thus it is a part of the imperialist globalisastion in the interest of big capitalists and Multi National Companies and it has nothing to do with the welfare of the employees or pensioners or any individual or even Government finances. 

              Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance (2010-2011) of 15th Lok sabha of Ministry of Finance headed by shri. Yaswanth Sinha in its 14th Report on PFRDA Bill, has made the following observations - Para 44 - “The Committee, deeply concerned about the uncertainity of returns on the funds of the subscribers, are dismayed at the casual approach of the Government as reflected in clause 20(g), wherein the hapless subscribers have no implicit or explicit assurance of benefits, except market based guaranteed returns mechanism, neither tried or tested.  As any effective pension scheme needs to be underpinned by stability of returns and reasonable post retirement incomes, it is imperative that Government should provide for minimum guaranteed returns, and not mere camouflage of market based guarantee, which should not be less than the minimum returns available currently under ,the defined benefit pension scheme.  The Committee therefore, desire that the Government must divise a mechanism to enable subscribers of NPS to be ensured of such a minimum assured/guaranteed returns for their pensioners, so that they are not put to any disadvantage vis-a-vis other pensioners and thus going a long way in creating a sense of security amongst the employees that not only would their capital be safe but they would also be getting stable returns on the same.  The Committee, therefore, recommended that clause 20 (2)(g) of the Bill be altered accordingly”.

              Neither the Government has taken any action to guarantee Minimum Pension as recommended by Parliamentary Standing Committee, nor it has introduced a minimum assured returns scheme as provided in sub-section 2(d) of section 20 of PFRDA Act 2013.

              The Audit Report dated 4th August 2020 on National Pension System by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG) in Para 3.7 of its report made the following observations/recommendations -

              “As per PFRDA Act 2013, vide sub section 2(d) under Section 20, the subscriber seeking minimum assured returns shall have the option to invest his funds in such schemes providing minimum assured returns as may be notified by the Authority.  Even after a lapse of more than 15 years since introduction of the NPS, the subscribers were yet to receive such minimum assurance.  Immediate steps need to be taken for providing Minimum Assured Returns Scheme (MARS) in compliance to the provisions of the PFRDA Act, to the subscriber for ensuring their social security post retirement”.

              As per the C&AG Audit report dated 4th August, 2020, as on 31st March 2018, there are 58.01 lakhs Government sector subscribers including 17,58,144 Central Government employees, 31,63,415 State Government employees, 1,70,856 Central Autonomous body employees and 7,08,585 State Autonomous body employees.  The pension of these 58 lakhs employees is not guaranteed and hence they are living in a State of uncertainity about their futurte.  Further they are not eligible for family pension after death on retirement, Dearness relief, Additional pension inspite of the fact that they are paying 10% of their salary every month including Dearness Allowance towards New Pension Scheme.  They are also not eligible for pension revision through Pay Commissions. 

              At the same time Corporates and Multi National Companies are happy because as per the C&AG Audit report dated 4th August 2020, the total Asset Under Management (AUM) in NPS amounted to 3,99,245 crores as on 31st January 2020 with 3,41,815.87 crores pertaining to Government Sector.  (Central and State Government employees).

Employees and Pensioners under Old Pension scheme (OPS) are also not safe:

Clause 12(5) of PFRDA  Act is reads as follows:

              “Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (c) of sub section (3), the Central Govt. may, by notification extend the application of this Act to any other pension scheme (including any other pension scheme exempted and notified ,under clause (c) of Sub section (3)”.    That means no seperate Act is to be passed in Parliament for this purpose.

              The Central Govt. has made an attempt in this regard, through 6th Central Pay Commission appointed in 2004, ie. immediately after the introduction of New Pension Scheme from 01-01-2004.

              As mandated by Government, the 6th Central Pay Commission chaired by Rtd. Justice Sreekrishna has appointed Centre for Economic Study and Policy, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore to suggest various options for suitable self-sustaining models to finance the pensions of Central Government employees with the final objective that funds so devised are able to meet substantially the entire pension liability of the Government ie; pension liability of employees and pensioners coming under the Old Pension Scheme (OPS)  and to assess the financial liability that will need to be initially incurred by the Government for implementation of such self-sustaining models.

              The Committee made the following recommendations -

              “In case, the Government want to create a pension fund to discharge their entire pension liability (ie; the pension liability of Central Government employees and Pensioners coming under old Pension Scheme), the study by the Institute of Scoial and Economic Change (ISEC) reveals that the net present value of the projected pension liability is Rs.3,35,628 Crores; based on an assumed rate of return of 8 percent.  A fund of this magnitude will help the Government to meet the pension payments from the returns of the fund and help avoid earmarking resources on an annual basis for the mounting pension outgo that takes place on account of Pay As You Go System (ie. old Pension System) that currently happens in each budget.”

              Government has neither accepted this recommendation of 2006 of 6th Central Pay Commission nor rejected it.  As ,the number of Old Pension Scheme pensioners and Old Pension Scheme Central Govt. employees are coming down every year, the Government may consider the proposal at the appropriate time.  Thus, it may be seen that the chances of converting the existing OPS pensioners and OPS Central Government employees into pensioners getting pension from Pension fund is still hanging over their head ,as a democleus sword.  Suppose the pensioners and employees coming munder the purview of Old Pension Scheme are brought under a Funded Pension Scheme, as explained earlier, by a Gazette notification by the Government, they will be governed by clauses and rules of PFRDA  Act.  Their pension will be from Pension fund.  The amount of pension will depend upon the vagaries of share market.  If Pension Fund collapse, there is no guarantee that they will get pension.  Further, they will not be eligible for Dearness Relief, additional pension on attaining the age of 80 years, family pension if death takes place after retirement, pension revision  based on the recommendations of Pay Commissions.

What shall we do and how we can overcome this situation?

              There is no short cut before the Central Government employees and Central Government Pensioners, both NPS and OPS, to overcome this situation.  Our social security is in danger.  We have to mobilise and fight against these neo-liberal pension reforms.  We should build up a mass movement.  We should learn lessons from the farmers of India.  Immediately on passing the farms reforms Acts, they spontaneously reacted.  It is high time to organise, similar type of movement against NPS.  Our one and the only demand should be “Scrap NPS and restore OPS” (ie; Scrap National Pension System mand restore Old Pension System).  If 32 lakhs Central Government Employees and 33 lakhs Central Government Pensioners rally behind the demand and come to the street, no Government can ignore it.  Along with the Central Government Employees and Pensioners, if we succeed in making the State Government employees and State Government Pensioner and Autonomous body employees and Pensioners,  numbering about 150 lakhs also join the movement,  it will become a force of about more than two crores in numbers and the Government will be compelled to Scrap NPS and restore OPS. Let us work together for such a mass movement of Employees & Pensioners.  It is not impossible.  If farmers can do it, we can also do. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2020


            Following is the text of the speech given by Com.K.K.N. Kutty. Vice President, Confederation of CTE & Workers at the webinar organised by the NFPE Kerala Circle as a mobilisation campaign for the 26th November, one day general strike for which the call has been given by the Central Trade Unions.  The webinar was also to commemorate the centenary year of the famous speech delivered by Com. Babu Tarapada Mukherjee at the Postal Employees Conference at Lahore on  9th October,1921. A re-reading of the speech in the present context is not only germane but also apt and appropriate.  The speech gives an insight into the socio-politico situation of the country that was in existence a century back and the valiant attempt of the postal workers to organise the working class movement in the country and to bring to the centre stage of the most relevant point of the living wage which later became one of the directive principles of our Constitution.  In the days when every attempt is being made to wreck the very constitution from within, when the Government elected by the people work for the benefit of the corporates.  The webinar was inaugurated by Com. A.K. Padmanabhan, Vice President, CITU. Com. CC.Pillai, former Secretary General NFPE, Com. V.A. N. Namboodiri, former General Secretary of BSNL. Employees Union and many others spoke on the occasion.  The meeting was presided over by Com.P.V. Rajendran, President , NFPE and the General Secretary of the Co-ordination Committee of Central Government employees and workers, Kerala State.   

Com. President and comrades,

I am thankful to com. P.K. Muralidharan, for inviting me to part-take in this webinar.  That interalia has also given  me the opportunity to be a small partner in the working class effort to oppose the economic policies of the Government of India, which all of you are aware had been destroying our country as a sovereign nation.  There had been upheaval of great dimension in the socio-political scenario of the country ever since  the new policy was put into operation.  Despite the three decades of disaster to the vast millions of our countrymen, the Indian media still rolls out its eulogy unabated. Today our economy has nosedived to a negative growth rate.   The just concluded quarter has indicated a reduction in our growth rate of such a high dimension as big as minus 23.9%. It is during this period, Mukesh Ambani has become the fourth richest man in the world worth 80 Billion dollars.  There are only three persons ahead of him,  Jeff Bose of Amazon, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zukerburg of Face book .  As on today, 44% of the Indian telecom sector especially the 4G spectrum is controlled by Ambani’s company.   It is now 4 years that the 4G spectrum has been allotted to the private companies. And  the facility denied to the Indian public sector undertaking BSNL.  During our younger days, the slogan against the two monopoly houses in our country viz. Birlas and Tatas was the rage. They have now been relegated.  Though the Ambani’s and Adani’s have taken over the reins of the economic administration through the crony capitalism the anger against the monopolisation of Indian business has not yet been  manifested.   Having said very many facets of the neo-liberal policies by my illustrious predecessor speakers  and the comrades who are participating in this webinar are well informed and knowledgeable,  I avoid the repetition.  My only appeal to all of you is to take the strike campaign seriously and make every effort to bring the pernicious impact of these policies to the young comrades.

Having denied the Dearness compensation for about 18 months, and having no certainty as to when it would be resurrected, let me caution you of the present decision taken by the Government to change the base year from 2001 to 2016 for the purpose of consumer price index computation.  Changing the base year periodically is no doubt what is recommended even by the international body.  But then why 2016. It is specifically ordained  that the base year must be a normal year without social, economic, or political upheaval.  You know 2016 would have been a normal year but for the grand  and surprise announcement  of the Prime Minister on 8th Nov. night  that 86.4% of the currency notes in circulation would no longer be valid.  The demonetisation of such large number of currency had been unheard of in the history.  We were told that 4 lakh crores of black income in circulation would be recovered for the benefit of the exchequer. Leaving aside a small amount of money, almost the entire demonetised money came back calling the grand announcement of arresting the generation and proliferation of black income a hoax.  To the best of my information, the Reserve Bank of India is yet to release the final figure of the extent of money got recovered.  As you all know the success of demonetisation is gauged from the extent of the currencies not exchanged for the new notes.  Some time back we were told by the RBI that the information and data from Nepal and some other neighbouring countries are yet to be received and even without that more than 98% of the currency that was in circulation had been got exchanged.   The one and only impact of this grand foolishness idiosyncrozy was  that the economy got shattered and the poor people suffered.  I am not to elaborate this issue, as I am sure you must not have forgotten the travails of the common people  as we had been part of that bitter experience.  My point is as to why the Government has now chosen that disastrous year as the base year for the computation of CPI; One can perceive a method in the madness.   

2016 has another connotation.  Our last wage revision has been made effective from Ist January, 2016.  The minimum wage was fixed at Rs. 18000  It was an erroneous computation.  We wanted the Government to consider the submissions made by us in the matter. We pointed out that the minimum wage would come to Rs 26000 if the formula for the said computation is correctly applied.   The earlier  Pay Commissions, especially the 3rd CPC had computed the minimum wage.  We had no quarrel with their computation.  However to deny it to the workers, they cited the deplorable state of the Indian economy then.  No such plea was made either by the 7th CPC or later by the Government.  The Union cabinet simply took the stand that they would not budge and would go by what the Commission had recommended for the Commission was headed by a Supreme Court judge and is composed by men of high standing etc. etc. 

You know almost similar stand was taken by the first Government of the post independent India.  The first strike action of the civilian employees of the Government was the product of that ill-informed decision.  Thereafter, there had been discussions and negotiations with varying degree of success.  The best bargain we had was the post 5th cpc negotiations.  We could not demonstrate our united strength in such a  sounding manner afterwards..  It had its disastrous impact.  One by one this Government was emboldened to take on us; be it outsourcing, privatisation; corporatisation; denying the hard earned benefits; the denial of an age old social security system of pension etc. etc.  So the 26th November is an opportunity for those who believe struggle as the only and certain way of advancement.  The threat against the cost indexed wage system has now become real.  The Covid 19 situation has been taken advantage of to deny the DA due to the employees and pensioners.  The re-engineering of the commodity basket for CPI is the means to achieve that objective.  We should realise that our reaction has been unfortunately muted.  Our sliding down the path as a potent organisation commenced with the refusal to tread the path of struggle even against such an important issue like wage revision.  This is not to say that the Confederation and the affiliates like NFPE had not strived to bring about it.  We could not succeed to bring about the requisite unity is however a reality.  To our dismay we now find that a one man rule is being perpetrated in our country.  Democracy has been mutilated.  Disruption of the societal fabric has become the means to garner electoral support.  The one point demand, if one can reduce the whole of the charter of demands, is to bring about change in the governance of the country.  In other words, let us realise the politics behind the policies. 

We have seen over the years how the hard earned savings of the Central Government employees could be channelled to finance the private corporate entities in the country; to provide the catalyst for maximisation of their profit.  The very purpose of NPS was that.  The return from the NPS as we all know is now linked to the profits of the corporates. The recession in the economy on which we had no role at all, will affect the savings of our young comrades.  It is their money which will go into the drain. Once the corporate declares themselves as bankrupt they escapes from all criminal proceedings in the country, including cheating of the investors.  What we had been telling all along about the NPS, its ill-conceived objective, its incapacity to provide any assured decent return have now been bared by the Comptroller and Auditor General through their performance report.  Com.Sreekumar, President of Kerala COC has made a copy of the said report available for us to see.  They have questioned why not a minimum guarantee when many other countries could provide it. This is not an answer to our basic objection to the NPS itself.  It must go lock, stock and barrel.  Because it is an instrument to cheat the employees, take away their money with the help of a sovereign Government in a compulsory manner.  Our young comrades are naturally disturbed. They will fight and fight back this chicanery. The strike of 26th November must further embolden them; provide them to feel optimistic  that the struggle will win ultimately provided it is sustained; carried on with conviction, courage and determination.

As you know this webinar has another objective too, though I personally do not consider it as another objective.  In fact the observance of the Centenary of the great speech delivered by Com. Babu Tarapada Mukherji at Lahore in 1921 is befitting to the occasion.  Anybody who makes a re-reading of the speech will realise as to how relevant it is today as it was in 1921.  I had read an extract of this speech for the first time somewhere in 1970 during my moulding days.  As you know every trade union worker, who wanted to rise to the level of leadership will consider oratory a pre-requisite.  Mark Antony, Winston Churchill and many of the Candidates for the American Presidents, back home, our own National and Regional leaders had been our icons.  The speech of Com. Babu Tarapada was on a different plane. Perhaps one of the speeches which received the world acclaim and could produce an instantaneous impact was the one delivered by William Jennings Byran at the democratic convention of US election in the year 1896.  That fetched him the nomination as the Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in the US election.  In the preparation of this webinar I had a re-reading of the great speech delivered by Com. Tarapada Mukherji.  What a fantastic speech it was.  I think a circulation of the full text of the speech will have an exhilarating impact over the minds of all those who are associated with the trade union activities.  That I am sure will be a great campaign material to prepare our comrade to realise the importance of struggle, self respect and organisation.

When the country was in serfdom, he was the man who spoke in a trade union convention of the “emancipation from slavery economic or otherwise.” He wanted his comrades to fight against the Postal Committee’s report.  Are we not in the same position today in so far as the 7th CPC report and the Government’s action thereon is concerned.  He characterises the suggestion made in the Committee’s report  as “grotesque in the extreme, absurd as absurd can be  and insulting to the dignity of labour.  Those who are doubtful thomases must read between the lines.  He asserts that labour has become self conscious  enough to contemplate taking “direct action” even in the affairs of the State.  He had no hesitation to refer to the age long silence as nothing but crime.  He asserts unambiguously that workers are the very people who produce wealth.  Those who do not work, according to him are parasites like vampires sucking the blood of the society, akin to what Karl Marx described the middle class in the society.   He told his brother comrades without mincing words, that they had a past akin to a somnambulist and exhorted them to come back to reality and real life.  In all the Commissions for wage revisions appointed by the Government of India, there had been a representative of labour.  But that was discontinued from the day of the 6th CPC.  We had no labour representative in the 7th CPC.  Our objection remained and got restricted to letter writing.  What Com. Tarapada says about such exclusion form the Committees and Commissions to go into the matters concerning the working class is worth noting. You cannot be bound by the findings of a committee with which you had nothing to do and who had nothing to do with you.

He goes on to say that comparison has been made by the Committee with commercial firms as if the Government are to follow instead of setting example to capitalist justification of denying what constitutes the real living wage in the present time.

When we were denied the minimum wage,  the barest minimum required for human existence, as the 1957  formula is of the need based minimum wage, not living wage as guaranteed under the  Constitution,  we ought to have remembered Com.Babu Tarapada.   What did he say one hundred years back.  What was his advice to his comrades at Lahore. He exhorts:

The burning question of the day is the bread and decent living.  Are we paid a living wage . Do we get sufficient wages to nourish our children with healthy and nutritious food, to clothe them decently, to house them in proper and ventilated quarters with sufficient  accommodation  for purposes of decency and health moral  development  to give  them education, to pay proper medical help, to meet the marriage expenses and various other social obligations and provide for the rainy day? As brothers we all know to what strait we have been reduced to. We do not live , we merely exist and drudge on to sustain life.   He continues:

Man is something more than an animal.  He cannot afford to pass his days  in mere animal existence. He cannot live confined only to his physical needs are satisfied.   His moral nature will rise in rebellion  if it is altogether neglected.   It is impossible to live the life of a moral being  who exists for a higher end to develop into fine manhood and bring into harmony with the universe and its author-unless  he has a mind free from anxiety and unless he has sufficient leisure for contemplation and introspection. 

            We must fight and fight streneouslsy to secure what alone can make life worth living. 

            Just listen to these words, how apt it is today in the background of our decision to fight against the continuing oppression.

Once we succeed in overcoming the mean terror and low selfishness  and abject submission the soul will manifest in all its glory and it will triumph even whatever obstacles may stand in our way. 

            His firm advice was:

take it from me brother, the petitions and memorials and supplications will count for nothing so long as you do not organise  yourself in a manner to convince the Govt. that you will no longer stand non-sense. 

            He very optimistically conclude : 

the ground is ready; only some daring spirits are wanted to sow the seeds and reap the abundant harvest.

            In his speech, he twice refers to the greatest qualities a union should possess:  He says :

we must fully develop class consciousness in one word we must feel strongly that we are for the union and union for us. 

            He had identified the following as cardinal weaknesses.  He use a particular word which is not in currency presently: Flunkeyism . Though it must have gone out of circulation, what it connotes is in abundance in our official parlour.

            Cowardice, selfishness, treachery, supineness, and insincerity all are for asphyxiate the soul. 

            The fifth pre requisite he has expressed as most important was the sense of discipline.  He has gone at length to explain this. 

We have been often old and being told even today is that the Pay Commission is composed of people of high stature, of great integrity, of the foremost judicial mind,  and the Government is thus duty bound to accept their recommendations.   Have the Government accepted all the recommendations made by this Commission.  Why did they change in so for as option No. 1  for pensioners are concerned?  Even the suggestion of the Staff side to accept it as the third option was rejected. Why?  Com. Tarapada said in 1921 that the Postal Committee was so great that they could call the workers beggars: The 7th CPC could commit  such grievous error  in computation of the minimum wage.  According to Com. Tarapada Govt. must consult the employees before the suggestion from whichever exalted source it emanates .

            One can go on quoting from the speech to prove beyond an iota of doubt that how relevant the speech is today, even after one hundred years; how great was his thinking, how clear was his thought process and how unambiguous was his conclusions.  I am enamoured over the vocabulary employed, the symmetry of the presentation, the content, the force and confidence it conveys to the listener.   The everlasting impression it makes on the mind , the very essence of oratory and above all its permanency is beyond time.  I am certain that this speech must have made an everlasting contribution in building a powerful, strong, united and militant movement of the postal employees. Let me conclude by placing by admiration which I do not have the capacity to express in words.   Thank you comrades, once again, for giving me this opportunity to be a participant of this meeting convened for a great purpose and greater objectives.  I hope that it would be apt and appropriate If I quote Com. Babu Tarapada Mukherjee once again to conclude:

We beg no longer, we entreat no more, we petition no more, we defy them  and we must defy them :


Vice President, Confederation of CGE & Workers.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Sunday, October 25, 2020


                                                    STRIKE NOTICE TO BE SERVED

ON 27.10.2020


No.PF-12-C/2020                                                                   Dated: 27th October—2020


            The Secretary / Director General,

            Department of Posts,

            Dak Bhawan,

 New Delhi – 110001



            In accordance with the provisions of Sub Section (1) of section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, we hereby notify that all Postal, RMS & GDS Employees will go on One Day Strike on 26th November-2020.

            The Charter of Demands is enclosed herewith

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Yours Sincerely                                    

                              CHARTER OF DEMANDS                               PART-A

1.   Scrap New Contributory Pension Scheme (NPS).  Restore old defined benefit Pension Scheme (OPS) to all employees.  Guarantee 50% of the last pay drawn as minimum pension.

2.      (a)     Scrap the draconian FR 56((j) & (i) and Rule 48 of CCS (Pension) Rules 1972.  Stop terrorizing and victimising employees.

          (b)     Withdraw the attack against the recognised status of Associations and Federations.

          (c)     Withdraw the anti-worker Wage/Labour codes and other anti-labour reforms.

          (d)     Stop attack on trade union rights.

3.      (a)     Withdraw the orders freezing the DA and DR of employees and Pensioners and impounding of arrears till 30-06-2021.

     (b)     Implement five year wage revision and Pension revision to Central Government employees and Pensioners.  Appoint 8th Central Pay Commission and revise the Pay, Allowances and Pensionary benefits of Central Government employees and Pensioners with effect from 01-01-2021.

         (c)     Honour the assurance given by Group of Ministers (GoM) to NJCA leaders on 30-06-2016.  Increase minimum pay and fitment formula recommended by 7th CPC.  Grant HRA arrears from 01-01-2016.

         (d)     Withdraw “Very Good” bench mark for MACP, grant promotional heirarchy and date of effect of MACP from 01-01-2006.

      (e)     Grant Option-1 parity recommended by 7th CPC to all Central Govt. Pensioners.  Grant one notional increment to those who retired on 30th June.

          (f)      Settle all anomalies arising out of 7th CPC implementation.

4.      Stop ban on creation of new posts.  Fill up all seven lakhs vacant  posts in Central Government departments in a time bound manner.  Scrap National Recruitment Agency and introduce Departmentwise recruitment and Regional recruitment for Group B and C posts.  Stop re-engaging retired personnel in Central Govt. services.

5.  Stop Corporatisation and privatisation of Railways, Defence and Postal Departments.  Withdraw closure/merger orders of Govt. of India Printing Presses and Postal Stores depots/Postal Stamp depots.  Stop proposed move to close down salt department.  Stop outsourcing and closure of Govt. establishments.s

6.    (a)     Regularisation of Gramin Dak Sevaks and grant of Civil Servants status.   Implement remaining positive recommendations of Kamalesh Chandra Committee Report.

         (b)     Regularise all casual and contract workers including those joined service on or after 01-09-1993.

7.   Settle all Covid-9 related issues pertaining to Central Govt. employees and Pensioners on top priority basis.  Treat the  period of absence during lock down as duty.  Grant full wages to casual, part-time, contingent and contract workers during the lock down period.

8.    Grant equal pay for equal work for all.  Remove disparity in pay scales between Central Secretariat staff and similarly placed staff working in field units of various departments.

9.      Implement 7th CPC wage revision and pension revision to remaining Autonomous body employees and pensioners.  Ensure payment of full arrears without further delay.  Grant Bonus to Autonomous body employees pending from 2016-17 onwards

10.    Remove arbitrary 5% ceiling imposed on compassionate appointments.  Grant appointment in all eligible cases.

11.    Grant five time-bound promotions to all Group B & C employees.  Complete cadre review in all departments in a time bound manner. 

12.    Ensure prompt functioning of various negotiating forums under the JCM Scheme at all levels.

        CHARTER OF DEMANDS                  PART-B

1. (a) Grant of Special Casual Leave to all the employees who could not attend due to Covid-19 related problems and issue of Uniform Guide Lines

(b)       Grant of Compensation of Rs. 10 Lakh to the family of deceased due to Covid-19 without any further delay.

(c)       Compassionate appointment to one ward of the deceased employee due to Covid-19.

(d)       Payment of wages to Casual/Part-time /Contingent /DRM & Out sourced Workers for the Lockdown period.

(e)       Continuance of Roaster till Covid-19 Problem persists.

2.         Stop Closure / Merger of PSDs/ CSDs/Post Offices/RMS Offices and Mail Motor Services. Stop Road Transport Network proposal.       

3.         Drop the idea of Decentralization of Postal Accounts offices and merger of Circle office and SBCO Cadre in PA Cadre.

4.         Stop harassment and allotment of unscientific targets to open IPPB accounts and Aadhar Enabled Payment Service and Aadhar Card Service.

5.         Stop Proposal of Common Service Centres in POs.

6.         Fill up all vacant posts in all Cadres and stop Recruitment of Outsourced Postal Agents particularly to run the Parcel Hubs in Department of Posts.

7.         Start Membership Verification for Regular and GDS Employees through Old Check-Off System, droop the idea of Online Verification.

8.         Implement remaining positive recommendations of Kamlesh Chandra9

9.       Finalize Cadre restructuring proposals of left out Categories of Department of Post.

10.       Implement 5 (Five) Days Week in all Post Offices and RMS Offices.