KAMALESH CHANDRA COMMITTEE REPORT ON GDS
ONE STEP FORWARD
Sri Kamalesh Chandra, Retired Member, Postal Services Board & Chairman Gramin Dak Sevak Committee has submitted it's report to Government on 24th November 2016. Even though earlier GDS Committee reports were published on the same date of submission itself , this time the Postal Board kept it pending for two months and published only on 19th January 2017. Against the unjustified delay in publishing the report , NFPE & AIPEU - GDS conducted series of agitational programmes like protest demonstrations , mass dharnas and finally declared indefinite hunger fast of Secretary General and all other General Secretaries in front of Postal Directorate (Dak Bhavan) from 18th January 2017.
The main recommendations of the Committee relates to simplification and rationalisation of categories of GDS and the number of Time Related Continuity Allowance (TRCA) slabs, increasing the wages of GDS and other welfare measures of GDS. The Committee has not attempted to analyse the justification of our demand for grant of Civil Servant status to GDS and has refrained from making any recommendations on the legal status of the GDS stating that the matter is presently subjudice and hence left it to the outcome of the court case. The committee , however , observed that there is a tendency to withhold the legitimate demands of GDS which are due to them , based on the apprehension that they will get closer to regular employees , and their claim for regularisation will be strengthened in the court of law , if such demands are allowed.
The Committee has further observed that the future survival of the Postal department will largely depend on the successful management of the GDS post offices, which effectively form it's "soul" and it would be difficult for the department to survive without the "soul". The Committee felt that the India Post Payment Bank (IPPB) which is going to be rolled out shortly , will use the strength of the GDS network and experiences of more than 2.60 lakhs trustworthy Gramin Dak Sevaks.
Under the new wage structure recommended by the Committee, eleven (11) TRCA slabs are subsumed into three (3) wage scales with two levels each for Branch Postmasters (BPMs) and for other than BPMs. Out of three wage scales , one scale will be common to both categories of GDS. The minimum scale for GDS other than BPM is fixed as 10000 for 4 hours duty and the minimum scale for 5 hours duty is 12000. Similarly, the minimum scale for BPM with 4 hours duty is fixed as 12000 and minimum scale for 5 hours duty is 14500. There will be only three categories of GDS with nomenclature BPM, Assistant BPM and GDS. All GDS working in Branch Post offices (other than BPM) are re-designated as Assistant Branch Post Masters (ABPM). All GDS working in Departmental Post offices are designated as Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS).
The minimum working hours of GDS is fixed as 4 hours (Level - 1) , instead of 3 hours at present and maximum working hours is 5 hours (Level - 2). Point system for assessment of workload of BPM is abolished. The new wage structure is linked to revenue generation of GDS Branch Post offices. Based on revenue generation , all GDS Post offices will be categorised as A(Green), B (Orange) , C (Pink) , D (Red) and efforts to be undertaken by the GDS BPM and the departmental officers to increase revenue of each category is explained in detail in the report. Committee has recommended that existing TRCA should not be reduced. If the BPM in the category D (which is the lowest category as per revenue earning) is not ready to improve the revenue earning , extension of working hours of Post office , stoppage of increment , withholding of promotion under financial upgradation scheme , relocation of the Post office etc are also recommended. The GDS BPM will be paid a revenue linked additional allowance @10% beyond level - 2 wage scale , if the revenue earned exceeds the limit fixed for category "A" offices. The increment rate recommended is 3%.
The other major recommendations are (a) Composite Allowance comprising of support for hiring accommodation , office maintenance , electricity charges etc (b) Children Education Allowance (c) three promotions (financial up gradations ) on completion of 12 ,24 and 36 years. (c) Enhancement of ex-gratia ceiling and Group Insurance Scheme amount (d) 26 weeks maternity leave for women GDS and one week Paternity leave (e) 30 days General leave (instead of paid leave) with provision for carry forward and leave surrender benefit upto 180 days of accumulated General leave at the time of retirement ( f ) five days Emergency leave like casual leave (g) Minimum one year service for writing promotional examination (h) liberalisation of grants and financial assistance from welfare fund and (h) Risk and hardship allowance.
Regarding Pension, no major change is recommended by the Committee, except increase in severance amount and increase in contribution to Service Discharge Benefit Scheme (SDBS). Similarly, there is no favourable recommendation regarding medical facilities. While recommending that the existing policy of relocation /redeployment should be vigorously pursued to relocate GDS post offices which are not justified as per norms, the Committee had also recommended that the department should not order closing of any GDS post office to further reduce the existing number of GDS post offices. The existing rule that the maximum hours of duty of GDS should not go beyond five hours , is retained by the Committee. There is also a recommendation that two separate unions should be formed for GDS, one exclusively for BPMs and one for all other categories of GDS.
Now comes the question of implementation. Normally Department will appoint a Postal Board Member to study and process the recommendations of the GDS committee for implementation. Then Postal Board has to approve it after seeking the comments of Joint Secretary & Financial Advisor. Then it is to be approved by other nodal Ministries like Department of Personnel & Training, Ministry of Finance, Law Ministry etc. After completing all these process, the final proposal will be submitted to Cabinet for approval.
NFPE & AIPEU - GDS will be making an in depth study of the recommendations and shall submit a detailed memorandum to the Department demanding immediate implementation of the favourable recommendations and also demanding modifications , improvement and rejection where ever required. NFPE & AIPEU -GDS will make sincere effort to get maximum benefits to the GDS. In case Government refuse to implement or dilute the favourable recommendations NFPE & AIPEU GDS will not hesitate to organise serious trade union action including indefinite strike.
All of us should keep in mind that the favourable recommendations of the GDS committee is a product of sustained struggles conducted by the entire Postal employees under the banner of NFPE , AIPEU -GDS , PJCA and Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers. Let us be ready for the 16th March 2017, one day strike, for further improvement of our service conditions. Let us unitedly fight and shall not rest till our final goal ie; civil servant status to GDS is achieved. No doubt, Kamalesh Chandra Committee report is ONE STEP FORWARD. Let us hope for the best.
IMPORTANCE OF THE 16th MARCH 2017
The meeting of the National Joint Council of Action (NJCA) was held on 17th January 2017, Leaders of Railways, Defence, Postal and Confederation attended the meeting, Unfortunately, there was no consensus regarding revival of the deferred indefinite strike of the 11th July 2017. Hence no decision could be taken.
The clear picture that emerged from the NJCA meeting held on 17.01.2017 is that there is no possibility of a joint strike or revival of deferred indefinite strike in the near future. It is also a fact that Government may implement the recommendations of Allowances Committee, Pension Committee etc before or immediately after March 2017; It has become certain that the Pension Committee has rejected Option. I recommended by the 7th Central Pay Commission, which is the one and only favorable recommendation, and the Implementation Cell of the Finance Ministry is processing the recommendation, of Pension Committee for Cabinet approval.
Whether the Allowances Committee will recommend any change in the recommendation of the 7th CPC (i.e. %ge of HRA etc.), nobody can predict. The request of the Secretary, JCM staff side and NJCA Convener to convene one more meeting with staff side was not conceded by the chairman of the Allowance Committee (finance Secretary ) till date. There is every possibility that the Government may not implement the revised allowances from 01.01.2016, instead it may implement it from 01.01.2017 or 01.04.2017, thereby denying arrears on allowances. After Government unilaterally implementing everything, declaring a strike is a futile exercise and betrayal of employees. We should strike when the iron is hot.
The unilateral decision of the Government to implement “Very good” bench mark for MACP promotions has cast shadow on the future promotional prospects of a large number of employees who are not in the good book of the Government and administration for reason best known to them. The NPS Committee constituted by the Government is not mandated to recommend scraping of New Pension Scheme, but it is for recommending cosmetic changes in NPS in the name of streamlining the NPS as recommended by the 7th CPC.
Regarding increase in Minimum Pay and Fitment formula, no High Level Committee is constituted till date, as assured by the Group of Senior Cabinet Ministers to NJCA leaders on 30.06.2016. A Group of Senior Officers held two round discussion with the staff side, but surprisingly they had not come prepared to discuss increase in Minimum wage and Fitment formula. They made a mockery of the meeting by disclosing in the first meeting that they are not fully aware of the details of the issue and in the second meeting they told that they came for discussing Allowances (another committee for Allowances is already constituted) and not Minimum wage and fitment formula!!! The last meeting was held in October 2016 and thereafter no meeting is notified. All the anomalies arising out of implementation of 7th CPC recommendations remain unsettled.
There is no improvement in the issues relating to Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS). It will take time for implementation of GDS Committee report which is published on 19.01.2017. Other demands submitted to Government by NJCA on 10thJune 2016 along with the strike notice are also pending. The four months time fixed for Allowance committee already extended to six months. The four months time for increasing Minimum pay and fitment formula expired on 30.10.2016.
All the employees and pensioners are totally disappointed and are voicing their anger and protest through various forums and social media. In the above circumstances, everybody expected that NJCA shall revive its deferred indefinite strike. Inspite of our best efforts, that is not happening.
When the three Cabinet Ministers including Shri Rajnath Singh, Home Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister and Shri Suresh Prabhu, Railway minister have gone back from their assurances and betrayed the entire employees and Pensioners, when the Government is unilaterally going ahead with all retrograde measures, we cannot remain silent spectators and accept every decision of the Government lying down, without any protest, Somebody should come forward to protest and, if necessary, to suffer and sacrifice and history has bestowed that responsibility on Confederation.
It is in this background the Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers has decided to go for one day strike on 16.03.2017. As the biggest affiliate of Confederation, NFPE and all its affiliates shall implement the decision in its true spirit and make the one day strike a thundering success.
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"TRUST SHALL NOT BE BETRAYED"
7th Central Pay Commission has quoted in para - 1.29 of " Foreword " , the following observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Bhupendranath Hazarika and another Vs State of Assam and others (reported in 2013 (2) Sec 516).
"It should always be borne in mind that legitimate aspirations of the employees are not guillotined and a situation is not created where hopes end in despair.......... A sense of calm sensibility and concerned sincerity should be reflected in every step. An atmosphere of trust has to prevail and when the employees are absolutely sure that their trust shall not be betrayed and they shall be treated with dignified fairness ; then only the concept of good governance can be concretized. We say no more."
Unfortunately, the NDA Government and the Group of Ministers consisting of Sri Rajnath Singh, Hon'ble Home Minister, Sri Arun Jaitley, Hon'ble Finance Minister, Sri Suresh Prabhu, Hon'ble Railway Minister who gave assurance on 30th June 2016 that Minimum wage and Fitment formula will be increased and a High Level Committee will be Constituted with a time - frame of four months , have given least concern for the above observations of the Apex Court. Now seven months are almost over. Further there is no guarantee that Allowance Committee will increase the percentage of HRA recommended by 7th CPC. Instead there is every chance, to deny retrospective effect from 01.01.2016 to the revised allowances and it may be implemented prospectively from 01.01.2017 or 01.04.2017, thus denying the eligible arrears for one year or more. It has become certain that the Option - 1 for pensioners recommended by 7th CPC, which is the one and only favourable recommendation, stands rejected. Orders on abolition of Advances including Festival advance and imposing "very good " condition for MACP are issued unilaterally .
Request of the JCM National Council Staff side Secretary to give one more opportunity to present it's case before the Allowance Committee is not conceded by the Finance Secretary, who is the Chairman of the Committee. The request of the JCM Staff side to modify the Terms of Reference of Anomaly Committee is also not yet considered by the Department of Personnel and Training. The Committee constituted for New Pension Scheme is only for streamlining the NPS by making some cosmetic changes as recommended by 7th CPC and not for considering the demand of the JCM Staff side to scrap NPS. Not even a single demand of the staff side submitted to Cabinet Secretary on 10th December 2015, requesting modifications in the recommendations of 7th CPC is settled by the Government. The so-called group of senior officer's committee had, in fact, ridiculed and humiliated the JCM Staff Side standing committee.
The All India Conference of the Confederation of Central Government Employees & Workers held in August 2016 at Chennai had taken a decision to request all constituents of NJCA to revive the indefinite strike , if Government is not ready to honour it's commitment before 30th October 2016. The AIC had further decided that, in case NJCA is not ready to revive the deferred indefinite strike, then Confederation should organise independent trade union action including strike. Confederation strongly feels that there in no meaning in waiting indefinittely for Government's decision. We cannot cheat the employees like NDA Government. As no consensus decision could be taken in NJCA, Confederation had decided to go for one day strike and organised country wide demonstrations, mass dharnas and massive Parliament March. Strike notice for one day strike on 15th February 2017 was served on 28th December 2016. Due to announcement of assembly elections in five states by Election Commission of India and 15th February being a polling day, the strike was postponed to 16th March 2017.
Intensive campaign and mobilisation is going on in full swing all over the country. About 13 to 15 lakhs Central Government employees will participate in the strike, with the full support and solidarity of about 34 lakhs pensioners, Central Trade Unions, independent Federations of State Government employees, Bank and Insurance employees and other public sector employees.
After reviewing the participation of employees in the one day strike, Confederation shall explore the possibility of declaring higher form of trade union action including indefinite strike .
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