EDITORIAL POSTAL CRUSADER-JUNE-2013
GDS – CONFRONTATION INEVITABLE
Even after 65 years of independence, “ED System”, one of the legacies of the British Raj, with three lakhs work force is being continued, carried forward, and entrenched as the system of cheap labour and exploitation by the Government of India in the Department of Posts.
The Extraneous Departmental Agents which was the nomenclature of the GDS during the British regime and equated with the Government employees became the "extras" of the Department after independence. Justice Talwar declared that they are holders of Civil Posts as per the Supreme Court Judgment and should be called as Grameen Dak Karmachari with departmental status. But the Government of India has chosen the nomenclature as Grameen Daks Sevaks not as Karmachari and not accorded the civil servant status for all purposes.
The GDS Rules were subsequently amended in 2001 and 2011 and made the GDS as holder of Civil Post "outside the civil service" categorically with the fixed definition that they should not be equated with the regular Government servants and applied only to the Disciplinary rules which is also not a statutory one. They have been denied the prorate wages at par with the Departmental employees. The pay has been termed as Time Related Continuity Allowance (TRCA). All the positive recommendations of Justice Talwar Committee were buried and cemented after the implementation of Natarajamuthy Committee. Even the pro rata to the minimum of the Government scale has not been ensured to the existing GDS and there is a heavy loss to all the GDS after the implementation of his report.
The GDS is now equated with the part time workers like Anganwadi workers. Their status has been lowered. The rules were modified to deny everything to this exploited category further. The protection of TRCA which was in existence since 1970s was taken back. The recruitment rules for postmen and MTS were amended deleting the provisions of seniority selection among GDS and introduction of open market recruitment. The combination of duty is the order of the day. The conditions put forth for filling up the vacant GDS posts will never allow to fill up the posts regularly. The medical benefits have not been implemented.
The Bonus which was granted at par with Departmental employees was snatched away and files were constructed in such way to deny all the benefits to GDS permanently. There is a clear discrimination between the regular and GDS officials and they lost many things. Protection of pay granted in 1986 was frozen. Now after one year there is no protection and the reduction will take place. Bonus ceiling reduced to Rs.2500 from Rs.3500. The GDS workload norms were tightened. The vacant GDS posts have not been filled up. The indiscriminate combination of duties is the order of the day and there is no pro-rata wages to GDS as per the Sixth CPC. The 100% promotional avenues enshrined for the GDS in MTS and Postmen recruitment rules were modified and open market recruitment is resorted to. The relaxation of standard in the question papers has been withdrawn and now tightened with the pattern of CBSE Xth standard resulting many vacancies were not filled up and will go to the open market, thus the GDS will be deprived of fair chances.
The economic development during the six decades as a whole in the nation in general and in the villages in particular has brought several modern changes in the livelihood of the common man in the country. His needs and wants have been upgraded. The Department of Posts is considered as the most useful vehicle to reach out to all those common men in the country for delivering the packages of different Ministries, departments of Government and for State Governments.
The most important products of Postal Life Insurance and Rural Postal Life Insurance are getting introduced to the general public through these Grameen Dak Sewaks and these sections of the Postal Workers are the mainstay in the business development of these products in the present competitive insurance sector. There are multifarious products and works that are being carried out by these Grameen Dak Sewaks and it is beyond doubt that the scope of business among the crores of rural population wholly dependent on these segments of Postal Workers. Such a vital section of Postal Employees is being treated as non-regular Government Employees by the Government is nothing but naked exploitation for the purpose of denying legitimate dues to them.
This NFPE appeals the Government to implement the Justice Talwar Committee recommendations at least on civil servant status to the GDS as it is categorical in its recommendations that ED Employees are to be treated as Civil Servants for all purposes and that all perks, privileges and benefits are to be extended as like the other regular Government Employees.
The NFPE calls upon the Government of India to change its mind-set on the system of ED employees or Grameen Dak Sewaks from that of non-regular exploitative cheap labour system into the system of regular departmental employees and that a methodology should be construed to departmentalize all the existing GDS within a time frame.
The NFPE also notes with concern that the stand taken by the Postal bureaucracy in the aftermath of formation of 6th CPC to deny stoutly either to remit the consideration of pay revision of three lakhs of GDS to the 6th CPC or to constitute a Pay Body headed by a Justice as like Justice Talwar had led to the formation of a retired officer headed committee called the Nataraja Murthy Committee that loaded its recommendations with a lot of anti-GDS character to snatch away several existing benefits like pro-rata wages on par with comparable departmental cadres as well as the parity in bonus ceiling quantum etc.
This NFPE urge upon the Government that as observed by the 4th CPC it is the prerogative of the Pay Commissions to go into the issues of GDS also instead of forming any separate committees for these category of employees in the Department of Posts and hence the pay revision issue of three lakhs of GDS shall be remitted to the 7th CPC on its formation.
Notwithstanding such a revision of wages for the GDS through the 7th CPC, NFPE resolves to urge upon the Government to modify its retrograde stand of rejecting parity on bonus ceiling to GDS with all other sections of workers and employees under the Bonus Act and reducing the bonus ceiling from 3500/- to 2500/- in an arbitrary way based on the reactionary recommendation of the Nataraja Murthy Committee and come forward to remove this discrimination immediately.
NFPE urge upon the Government to direct the Authorities of Department of Posts to have a thorough discussion with the Federations and GDS Unions on all other issues of GDS and in particular the 32 charter of demands formulated by the AIPEU GDS (NFPE), the associated member of the NFPE including the time factor, the changing of Recruitment Rules of Postman and MTS that contains clauses against the interests of GDS as well as modifying the Conduct and Disciplinary Rules on par with the regular employees in every respect.
National Federation of Postal Employees also resolves to launch a powerful movement and consistent struggle along with the affiliated unions of the National Federation of Postal Employees for the settlement of all justified demands of three lakhs of GDS if the Department of Posts and the Government of India fail to redress the basic issues of this section of employees within a justified time frame.
NFPE Further like to make clear that in case the Government continuous its negative attitude towards GDS and refuse to include GDS under the purview of the 7th CPC the entirety of the Postal and RMS employees including GDS shall go on indefinite strike till the realization of the demands. NFPE calls upon the postal and RMS employees including GDS to be ready for such an action if situation warrants.