GDS/CHQ/43/01/2010/JCA Dated: 9.07.2010
Department of Posts
New Delhi – 110001
Sub: Comments on issues raised in the 'Charter of Demands' – regarding.
This Union has gone through the contents of the document titled 'Comments on issues raised in the "Charter of Demands' circulated by the Department of Posts. It is found that the portion of comments related to GDS issues do not reflect a true and correct picture and we offer these counter opinions with regard to the under-mentioned issues. We also request that a dialogue at the highest level with us with the intention of settling the genuine issues submitted by the Postal JCA to avert the indefinite strike.
1. Item No.1: Down gradation of EDSOs: The decision of the Department reportedly taken in 1988 was never known to us and no discussion at any time was conducted on this issue with the unions. Only now such a decision is intimated. If such a decision taken as far back as in 1988 is to be implemented now after a lapse of 22 years, then there would be no harm in taking a decision on this issue after subjecting the same to mutual discussions with the staff side. There need not have been such an amount of unilateralism on an issue that will have negative impact on staff interests. The EDSO is kept open for five hours and the wages of the ED SPMs are based on five hour work. The down gradation of EDSOS into EDBOs therefore will naturally result in down gradation of TRCA slab on the basis of the work load. The argument of the Department that there would be no financial loss or drop in TRCA and that there would be pay protection to the existing incumbents and alternate employment to surplus GDS Packers is not supported by any orders of the Department. The pay protection is only relative and there are no orders to protect their future annual increments. This means the future increments would be subsumed in the excess wages protected at present and no monetary increase will be there for years to come until all the excess wages so protected is adjusted completely. We therefore oppose the down gradation. The move will admittedly cause surplus staff also in many places and providing alternate employment means displacement of those GDS staff to different stations, and thus uprooting the poor GDS staff from their settled places to new stations. Therefore the move to down grade EDSOs has serious adverse impact on the GDS interests. Therefore we urge for reconsideration of the negative move. We also urge for issue of Directorate orders for functioning of EDBO up to five hours, which is yet to be issued.
2. Item No: 1: Closure of Offices: It is informed that no orders have been issued from RB/Planning Division for closure of 'C' Class Post Offices or closure of EDBOs. It is stated that instructions for rationalization of the urban network by relocating post offices from inner city areas to newly developed urban areas only have been issued vide letter No.40-4/2002-Plg dated 6.1.2003. We are not referring to this letter and its contents at all. We refer to the video conferencing held by the Secretary [P] and the oral instructions issued to the Chief PMsG at that time for merger of 'C' Class Post Offices with the nearby 'B' or 'A' Class offices etc in urban areas. There is no mention about relocating but merger of offices which is nothing but withdrawal of the postal facilities from those areas. In addition there is mention about opening franchisee outlets in such places from where the department is withdrawing its services. Similarly it is also mentioned in that place that EDBOs if any are to be closed and merged with the nearby departmental offices, then that action also is to be initiated. Therefore there is clear instructions to close down urban based 'C' class offices as well as 'EDBOs' wherever possible, which we oppose and request dropping of the negative move.
3. Item No. 7: Status of Civil Servants: The argument of the Department that ED Agents [Now GDS] are not Government Servants is being rejected by different courts even now a days and several judgments on various issues in the near past have emphasized that GDS are civil servants only. The Supreme Court that held in the Rajamma case that ED Agents are holders of civil posts has not been altered or changed so far by the Apex court but on the other hand the same Supreme Court in a recent judgment on grant of statutory gratuity to the widow of a GDS maintained the position that they are eligible to full gratuity under the Gratuity Act, 1972. The Department should come forward to accept these facts and find out ways of granting the status of civil servants to GDS at the earliest and grant all facilities like HRA, CCA, ACP, CEA and other welfare schemes as available to regular staff.
TU Facilities: Meanwhile, the stand of the Department in the said Note that about grant of TU facilities to GDS Union is totally negative and undermining the orders of the Department itself. There has been an order enabling the General Secretary and another CHQ Office Bearer of the recognized GDS Union to remain on leave without allowance beyond 180 days to look after the affairs of the recognized GDS Union. The arguments like the intention of the Department were not to allow leave without allowances to the same office bearer fir indefinite period is not supported by that order. The admission of the comments of the Department in the same paragraph that the order dated 24.03.2005 did not envisage a cap on the maximum number of leave without allowances speaks clearly that the order do envisage leave beyond 180 days for the office bearer during the period of his election as the CHQ office bearer. The misinterpretation of that order by the Department is not acceptable to us.
Bonus Ceiling: On Bonus ceiling the arguments of the Department is untenable. If the GDS are considered as Government Employees then the enhanced ceiling of 3500/- is applicable from the date the ceiling was enhanced to all other Central Government Employees. If the Department takes the argument that GDS are not Government Employees, then the enhanced ceiling of 3500/- should have been granted immediately when the Bonus Act was amended by the Government and implemented for non-government employees one year back before extending to Government Employees. Either way the Department cannot deny the enhanced ceiling of 3500/- to GDS. The arguments that by default it was granted to GDS in the past would not alter the fact that the GDS also were granted bonus on par with the entirety of CG Employees on the matter of ceiling. Several recent judgments of CATs clearly establish the fact that GDS are civil servants and that the bonus ceiling shall be 3500/- and not different from that figure. The arguments that the GDS Committee recommended 50% of the quantum and the Seniors Officers Committee recommended to continue with 2500/- and that was accepted by the Department and the Government are only recommendations and the stand taken by the Department on this issue. Our demand is to correct the stand of the Department and Government and to pay the bonus with the same ceiling under the Bonus Act that is applicable to all in the country.
Date of Revised TRCA: The Department argues now that the revised TRCA with five slabs for BPMs are only for future and not from 1.1.2006. But the orders issued by the Department for implementation of GDS Committee recommendations did not specify this at all. Only through subsequent orders, after implementation in several circles, the department is trying to correct a situation and cause recovery etc. The judgments of Courts especially in Kerala are demonstrating this point very clearly. More over the argument that five TRCA slabs were not available at the time of 1.1.2006 and therefore it cannot be extended is wrong. Even the sixth pay commission had implemented for certain categories of staff certain higher scales of pay that that of the corresponding existing pre-revised scales. Therefore there is no compulsion that only replacement scales can be granted and no new TRCA slabs can be granted to BPMs. Moreover BPMs are working beyond their duty hours for conveyance of cash, procurement of RPLI and other new business etc. In good many cases, due to the retrograde stand taken by the department, BPMs are undergoing recovery/reduction in TRCA. We once again insist that the Revised TRCA for BPMs shall be from 1.1.2006.
Cash Handling Norm: The Department argues that the Internal Work Study Unit was directed to study the cash handling norms by the GDS Committee and accordingly the IWSU submitted its report to Department on 4.7.2008 and the Secretary approved it on 6.11.2008. It is pertinent to point out that on this issue neither the GDS Committee sought the opinion of the unions nor the Department asked any opinion from us. This itself shows that the move of the Department is totally arbitrary. It is surprising that there is such a long gap of more than a year between the date of approval of the Secretary and the issue of orders. This one year time gap is not comprehensible. If the Department can wait for implementing an order after approval by the Secretary for one year, then we cannot understand as to what harm there could have been if the same was subjected to mutual discussion. It is also pertinent to point out that while the unions were proposing for 5000 work norm, the Senior Officers Committee headed by Shri.P.K.Gopinath, whose recommendation on Bonus ceiling was accepted by the Department and the Government, had also opined that 20,000 worked out by IWSU is harsh and that it can be only 10,000. Even this recommendation was not accepted. We therefore urge upon reconsideration on this issue.
At the same time we also point out that the 14 points allotted for daily account is too less while taking into account the fact the there are several new schemes and work added to BPMs that increase the work load of preparing the daily account and closing the account daily. We propose that this 14 should be increased threefold at least to match the increase in types of new work.
Prescribing other Norms: The Department's comments on charter of demands is self contradictory on the issue of prescribing norms for other work like NREGS, RPLI, OPA Pension payment through SB etc. The Establishment Branch of Directorate says that the recommendations of GDS Committee for providing standard/norms are under examination of the Department. The comment of the RB Division of Directorate says that since the work like NREGS is not a regular work, no work load can be fixed for the BPMs and that is why incentive is granted. This contradictory position is to be resolved first by the Department. We point out that incentive and work norm can both be assigned for a work and that is in no way wrong. We also urge upon the Department to quickly fix the work norm for all these work. If the total work of any BO goes beyond 5 hours, then the BO should be permitted to work for additional hours beyond five hours and the extra work should be suitable compensated. SIMILARLY THE ASSISTANCE, ACTUAL WORK PERFORMED IN SUB OFFICES/H.Os, IDLE HOURS SPENT BY GDSMPs/GDSMCs are to be covered for new norms as grave injustice is done to this category of staff. There is no arrangement for security of Govt. property, vigilance which could be ensured by proper utilization of man power available. Their services rendered all these years need to be recognized, to be better late than never!
Introduction of Social Security Schemes: The stand of the Department that since Nataraja Murti Committee had recommended from a prospective date and not from 1.1.2006 for the payment of enhanced rate of ex-gratia gratuity and severance amount, these social security schemes cannot be from 1.1.2006 is not acceptable to us. Even the 6th CPC that had recommended certain pension fixation from a prospective date was corrected by the Government from 1.1.2006. Similarly the recommendations like MACP etc were modified and improved by the Government in its contents. Therefore there is no bar for the Department / Government to take a judicious decision on a matter on which the GDS Committee had recommended from a prospective date but justification exists for implementing from 1.1.2006. The decision on date of implementation of social security schemes like ex-gratia gratuity and severance amount requires reconsideration by the Department / Government to avoid huge financial loss to hundreds of GDS who retired between 1.1.2006 and 9.10.2009.
This Union urges for implementation of the above issues in a modified manner as sought by us. We also place on record that the comments of the Department on Strike Charter of Demands is not acceptable to us and that a thorough discussion on all the issues at the highest level is necessary to sort out the issues.
Copy forward to: The Director (SR&Legal), Department of Posts, for necessary action, please.
All India Postal Extra Departmental Employees Union