Govt. of India has not included 2.76 lakhs Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS) of the Postal department under the purview of 7th Central Pay Commission. Govt’s stand is that GDS are not Civil Servants but are Extra Departmental Employees. After much pressure and agitations by Postal Federations finally Government appointed a separate Committee for revision of wages and service conditions of GDS, headed by a retired Postal Board Member Shri Kamalesh Chandra.
2. Service conditions of GDS are pathetic. No pay scale is granted instead Time Related Continuity Allowance (TRCA) is granted. Minimum monthly allowance for 3 hours is Rs.2295- plus DA and maximum monthly allowance for hours is Rs.3635 plus DA. No other allowances such as HRA, Children Education Allowance etc., are granted. Rent of the building in which Branch Post Office is housed is to be paid by the Branch Post Master (BPM) from his pocket. No maternity leave is granted instead 90 days leave salary is granted from Welfare Fund. No medical reimbursement or Medical Insurance Scheme. Only 20days paid leave is granted in a year. No time bound promotion except examination based promotion to limited number of Postmen & Group-D vacancies. No pension is granted and GDS service is not counted towards pension.
In 2011 a Contributory Pension Scheme is introduced with contribution of Rs.200/- each by the employee and the department. But the pension from this insurance annuity based scheme is meager, less than Rs.1000/- per month. In short the wages and service conditions are deplorable.
3. It is this background; the Kamalesh Chandra Committee submitted its report on 24-11-2016. Most of the recommendations of the Committee are positive. Minimum pay recommended was Rs.10,000/- and maximum Rs.14,500/- plus DA. Composite Allowance in lieu of building rent & Children education Allowance were recommended. Maternity leave for 26 weeks and one week paternity leave, Time bound three promotions on completion of 12,24 & 36 years of service, 30 days ordinary leave, five days emergency leave etc., are also recommended.
4. Eventhough the Committee Report is submitted to Govt. on 24-11-2016, even after a lapse of 18 months, the report is not yet implemented. In the case of departmental employees, wage revision as per 7th CPC Report was already implemented from 01-01-2016. Unjustified discrimination is shown towards GDS. As a result, the discontentment and protest among the GDS is growing day by day. NFPE & AIPEU-GDS has conducted various agitational programmes including one day strike on 23-08-2017 and five days continuous dharna at Delhi demanding immediate implementation of positive recommendations of Kamalesh Chandra Committee Report. Other Federations and GDS Unions too conducted their own agitational programmes. Inspite of all these, implementation of the Committee Report is delayed inordinately. The All India Conference of AIPEU-GDS held at Allahabad in March 2018, reviewed whole situation and decided to organize indefinite strike in the month of May 2018.
5. It is in this back ground, the indefinite strike notice was served by four GDS unions. First BEDEU (BMS) served notice for indefinite strike. Then AIGDSU and NUGDS (INTUC) gave notice for indefinite strike from 22-05-2018. As other GDS Unions had given indefinite strike notice, AIPEU-GDS (NFPE) also decided to service indefinite strike notice from the same date i.e., 22-05-2018 in consultation with NFPE.
Simultaneously, NFPE issued instructions to all Branch / Division / Circle Unions to extend full support and solidarity to the GDS strike by organizing daily protest demonstrations and attending duty by wearing black-badges. In five States viz., Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana & West Bengal departmental employees’ Unions also joined the strike from 22-05-2018.
6. Indefinite strike commenced on 22-05-2018. 100% GDS in all States went on strike. Out of 1,55,000 post offices, 1,29,500 post offices are Branch Post Offices manned by GDS. All the 1,29,500 Post offices remained closed. Out of five lakhs postal employees 2.76 lakhs are Gramin Dak Sevaks 90 – 95% of GDS went on strike from 22-05-2018 and their percentage increased day by day and came to near total. Regarding Departmental employees, the solidarity strike from 22-05-2018 conducted in Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and West Bengal withdrawn on the fourth day due to compelling reasons, but the entire GDS in these States are continuing their Strike. In Kerala, departmental employees are continuing their solidarity strike even today.
7 .After giving the strike notice, till, date four round of negotiations took place. First round discussions held with Additional Director General, Department of Posts. Second round of talks held with Secretary, Department of Posts. Third and fourth round of conciliation proceedings was held by Regional Labour Commissioner (Central), New Delhi. All these discussions failed due to the totally negative and adamant attitude of the Govt. and Postal Authorities and hence the strike is continuing. All the four GDS Unions are on strike and it is near total in almost all States. The functioning of the rural postal services is paralyzed as 80% of the post offices are closed and 100% GDS are on strike.