TASK FORCE REPORT ON POSTAL ----AN EXERCISE TOWARDS CORPORATISATION ------ THE WHOLE PROCESS IS MEANT TO MAKE ROOM FOR PRIVATISATION AND BE OPPOSED WITH UNTIRING MOVEMENTS
Since long we were feeling that the Govt. was initiating action for decentralization of PLI/RPLI, with a view to pushing the Insurance business towards corporatization and privatization . On and from 2003 various efforts were taken by us to stop this irrational endeavor. Several correspondence and meetings in this regard were held by our initiative. In spite of very strong arguments towards centralization of PLI/RPLI in the event of technological development, the decentralization policy has been undertaken for 54 Lakhs of PLI AND 1.5 Crores of RPLI policies, whereas for 32 crores Savings Accounts CBS system is going to be introduced, which is really surprising and anomalous.
All of our apprehensions have now been turned into reality with greater dimension.
A) The whole functioning of the Department of Posts including PLI/RPLI have now been divided into following six units:
i) Banking and Financial Services(Savings Bank)
iii) Distribution of third party products (services on behalf of the private sector/private parties on payment basis)
iv) Management of Govt. Services( all services requiring registration, certification or Government oversight including Aadhar Card and Ration cards, bill collection and payment on behalf of Govt. Department.)
v) Parcel and packets ( delivery of Parcels and Packets, tie-ups and agreements with E-Commerce players for delivery , return , bill collections and payment for E-commerce articles and handling of E-commerce delivery operations of India Post deal)
vi) Communications delivery(Delivering of subsidized letter mails etc)
B) First five units are designated as “ Strategic Business Units(SBUs)” conceptualized as Profit centres and the sixth unit “Communications delivery Unit” is not expected to make profits as it is a service to be rendered at a subsidized rates.
C) Under the Department of Posts a Holding Company called “ India Post(Financial and other services ) Corporation” will be formed and five separate subsidiary companies under the main Holding Company will be incorporated , converting the five strategic business units as subsidiary companies. The Corporation shall have separate set of members of persons as Director Board Members and the five subsidiary companies under the main Holding Company will have separate Board of Directors to manage their business.
D) In course of time, the Govt. of India may disinvest part of its holding or allow the Corporation to raise resources through issue of shares in the market.
E) Five separate subsidiary companies will be expected to make profits which will be utilized to meet the loss of Communications Delivery Unit(sixth unit) and the surplus profits would be diverted to main Holding Company.
F) India Post would continue to retain its fundamental character of a Departmental organization. This organization at apex level will be managed by three Board Members of the Department of Posts . All subsidiary companies will be required to pay appropriately for the use of these services to the Department of Posts.
G) Each subsidiary companies would be authorized to create their infrastructure like, Banking professionals to man the Branches of Post Bank of India and not the Post Office staff. In this instant case, the Postal staff working in HO/SO/BOs would act as Agents or make Banking correspondences on behalf of PBI.
H) Sixth Unit designated as “Communications Delivery Unit” not to be corporatized for the time being and will continue to be administered by the Department of Posts , but subsequently to be reorganized to facilitate running on commercial basis without depending on the consolidated fund of India for financial support.
I) Further, the proposed new Post Office Act Amendment Bill is meant to open up the Postal Sector to private couriers in a phased manner and the recommendation of the Task Force to expedite this process. It also recommends legislation of another Act “ India Post(Financial and other services) Corporation Act” for re-organisation of the total work of the Postal Department with the creation of new Corporate structure. However, the task force emphasizes categorically that existing salaries and allowances of the employees will not be affected adversely and no retrenchment is apprehended for such restructuring.
Now the questions which will knock our mind.
Q(1) : Why the sixth unit designated as “ Communication Delivery Unit” is not converted into a subsidiary company ?
Ans : This Unit will always remain as loss-making unit due to subsidized rates of letter mails etc and no Government will convert a loss making unit into a company. For this purpose, the Task Force has developed a short-cut method, which is to divide the entire Department of Posts into six segments and allowing the profit making segments to convert into a corporate sector. On completion of this process, the Department of Posts will remain as a skeleton unit with flesh and blood removed from it and the Govt. of India will be fulfilling its promises to WTO and GATS.
Q(2) : The Task Force states that by forming five separate companies profit of each company will increase and it will in turn help the Department of Posts to wipe out its losses and make profit.
Ans : The existing set up of the Department of Posts was enough to utilize the profit , no segregation of the Department was required. But it is proposed to be implemented with a motive to corporatize and subsequently privatize the profit-making segment of the Department. In this respect, the corporatization process earlier adopted for TELECOM as BSNL, VSNL and MTNL should be an eye-opener for us as these companies are now incurring loss and Govt. wants to privatize or close down these units.
Q(3) : Why should the Federations/Unions oppose the corporatization, when the task force has given solemn assurance that “ existing salaries and allowances of the employee will not be affected adversely and there will be no retrenchment during or as a result of the restructuring of the Department of Posts? Further, it is recommended that the Pension liability of 4000 crores is to be transferred to the consolidated fund of Government.
Ans: When the Telecom sector was bifurcated and corporatized, a similar assurance was given that this process would not adversely affect the salary and other benefits including pension of the employees. Initially, wages were hiked and higher bonus was declared for its employees. Thereafter, the Govt. had broken its promises by one after another measures curtailing the privileges . The BSNL employees are not being paid bonus, LTC for the last five years, Medical allowances. Sam Pitroda Committee recommended VRS for one lakh BSNL employees . Now the new Govt. has declared that BSNL will either be closed or privatized.
MATTER TO PAUSE AND PONDER OVER:
The order of closing down 9797 Post Offices and so many RMS sections could very recently be halted through our struggle and united action .
In our field, we, the Administrative Workers were feeling the pinch since 2003. On 14.03.2008 the PLI Directorate stated that “ Decentralisation of Operational Procedure, Administrative / Financial power and Modernisation is the world-wide phenomenon for reaching nearer to the customers for better’ after-sales service’” .
But decentralization in the light of world-wide context, like population, density of urban and rural population as percentage of total population and number of Post Offices etc.suggests that we require to serve 6,48,802 places in India for reaching nearer to the Insurants’ residence location , whereas we are having only 1,57,102 Post Offices throughout the country and thus, the rest 4,91,700 places are still unserved for the purpose Insurance Customers.
Naturally, the question of providing service to the doorstep of Insurants, is still an utopian dream.
When this is the overall scenario , until recently in the Department of Posts the authority was adopting the policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul, sometimes by transferring the RMS works to the Post Offices, DPLI works to the Circle Offices, Circle Offices’ work to the Director of Accounts(P) and so on and so forth. Latest move of decentralization of PLI /RPLI works to Head Post Offices is another step to pay our brothers at Post Offices some areas of work taking the work from their brothers of Administrative Offices, created a lot of resentments amongst the workers of Administrative Offices. But Task Force recommendation has given a clear indication that all cross-section of Postal Workers irrespective of their wings will be effected by the concept of five subsidiary companies and the traditional postal works designated as “ Communications Delivery Unit” , which is not expected to make profit, will remain with us.
Now, the game of both the Paul and Peter will be over as both the Paul and Peter would be victimized. Postal workers in its entirety irrespective of wings will be thrown in the midst of enormous odds with their existence being threatened in the days to come.
All segments of workforce in the Department of Posts- Postal , RMS, MMS , Adminstrative , Postal Accounts , SBCO, Civil wing, GDS and casual , part-time contingent employees will have to fight unitedly by forming an united forum of Postal Workers against the Govt. onslaught of Corporatisation of the Postal functionings. The decision of the Postal JCA (NFPE , FNPO, AIPEU-GDS(NFPE) and NUGDS) to go on an Indefinite strike from 6th May,2015 with a clarion call of “ NO CORPORATISATION OF POSTAL SERVICES “ alongwith other demands , is the appropriate actions taken by the JCA and to get it materialized should be our sole objective. During the period of five months before the Indefinite strike to be launched , sustained campaigning should be done right from now by our local leaders so that we can unfurl the flag of victory ultimately.
Definitely, our path will not be strewn with the flowers of popular applause . Through a strong and belligerent struggle we can fight for job security and against the move of corporatization and ultimately combat the attack unleashed by the Govt.
So, Comrades, let us be move with all determination for this Historic struggle to save our century –old Postal Department .