NFPE & AIPEU GDS (NFPE) JOINTLY SUBMITTED A DETAILED MEMORANDUM ON GDS ISSUES
Shri NARENDRA MODI JI, THE HON'BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA,
Shri RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD, HON'BLE MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS & IT
Ms. KAVERY BANERJEE, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF POSTS
Sub: - Submission of Memorandum – request benign
At the outset, we whole heartily record our wishes and appreciations for assuming the charge as the Secretary, Department of Posts and seeking your mercy in mitigating the hardship of the poorly paid GDS employees. With due respect and regards, NFPE & AIPEU-GDS (NFPE) are submitting the following issues for your kind and sympathetic consideration and favourable decision in resolving the genuine demands of the 2.73 lakhs downtrodden and poor GDS employees working in the Department of Posts.
1. DEPARTMENTALISATION OF RURAL POST OFFICES AND ALSO GDS
The Supreme Court in its judgement delivered on 22.07.1977 held that the ED employee now called as Gramin Dak Sewaks is not an agent, not a casual labourer, and not a part time worker but he is the holder of civil post outside the regular civil service and therefore declared that Article 311(2) of the constitution of India is attracted. Except conduct and service and application of disciplinary provisions, no other benefits available to the Departmental employees are extended to the GDS employees. The question of departmentalisation of GDS remains pending for long and is being denied continuously on one pretext or the other.
In the present set up of the socio - economic structure of rural areas, the daily wages for an agricultural labourer has been fixed much above the daily rate of a GDS. Resultantly, the GDS employees are not able to meet the family expenses and have one square meal a day.
The declaration of Justice Talwar Committee that “95.70% joined the Postal Department as ED agents hoping to get full time absorption and only 4.08% took it as a side occupation” is the real fact still prevailing and they are solely depending upon their wages for their livelihood”. In rural areas, still many of them are underpaid and lesser in the standard of living while comparing the MNREGS beneficiaries.
Specific Recruitment, Disciplinary and Appeal Rules for the ED agents were framed by the Director General P&T Department in the year 1935 and by the year 1947, as has been noticed by the First Central Pay Commission, the ED agents were subjected to Government Conduct Rules and Postal Regulations. Thus their status was recognised as Government Servants and eventually, in the year 1959, as civil servants by promulgation of the statutory rules under the proviso to Article 309. Therefore, this is an unfair labour practice and subtle violation of the judgement of the Supreme Court of 1977 in non-grant of civil status to GDS. It is violating of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution."The repeated attempt to read Article 311 (2) in isolation is entirely misconceived and untenable. ED Agents who are being treated as 'outside the regular service and not to be considered as civil servants excepting for the purpose of disciplinary inquiry is unfortunate and symbol of continuous exploitation despite the liberation ensured in the Apex Court. The present system of class within the class among the Civil servants shall be dispensed with.
Notwithstanding our genuine claim to declare the GDS as holders of civil posts and dispense the class within the class which is in violation of Article 14 & 16 of the Union Constitution, we wish to put forth the feasibilities of such departmentalisation of GDS and improve the services with the existing infrastructure in an effective manner.
With the hope of departmentalization at one day, the GDS are prolonging their life with more expectation of their future. Their hopes can be considered by introducing various new services in the rural areas with the cooperation's of the Human resource ministry and by introducing various social and developmental activities.
The Post office alone has such a vast network and infrastructure and it can be fully utilized by providing various new services to rural public through post offices by its own saving bank scheme to distribute the Govt welfare measures as if we are doing under the MGNREG Scheme.
We may attempt with the following works to provide more services to public as well as in paving way for the justification to departmentalise all the existing BOs.
1. The work likes pension payment, sale of certificates, direct booking of money orders, SB operations with maintenance of independent ledgers may be assigned to the departmentalized branch office so that the existing branch postmasters will be entrusted with more work.
2. If the proposal of full computerization of BOs is materialised in the ensuing year as proposed, there is every possibility of introducing all kinds of bill services and commercial activities in the rural areas like acceptance of Electricity bills, land revenue, panchayat taxes etc under the business activities of the Postal department or tie up with such governmental organizations.
3. Large scale expansion of telecom can be explored through the branch offices and acceptance of all telephone bills, mobile bills may be entrusted. The Department of Posts may also consider in taking licences for running telecom services in rural areas with subsidised rates to cater the requirement of rural public as if in vogue in many foreign countries.
4. Since all the BOs are proposed to be provided with hand held computers and decided to introduce various new financial services, it is possible to maintain the following works also in the BOs very efficiently with the manpower available in abundance which is underutilized at present.
a) Collection, maintenance and modifications of any of the work related to Census in rural areas.
b) Maintenance, Verification and preservation of records pertaining to the Citizens identity card issued by the Govt of India directly by the Dept of post.
c) Extension of MGNREGS work through post offices by providing work norms for the work instead of incentive as at present extended.
d) Enhance the working hours for eight hours and introduce various new works at village level with the cooperation of other Govt and public sector organizations.
e) Ensuring all various new schemes introduced by the Govt as its policies will be reached to the village level through our network and infrastructure spread over the nation.
5. It is pertinent to mention that there are more than 20% of the existing BOs having the work load for more than six hours. In accordance with Marathe time test under para 93 (iv) and para 114 (i) if a single handed post office is having 11 hours’ workload, the second PA can be augmented. On the similar analogy such BOs having more than six hours workload can be straight away departmentalized. The recommendations of the Justice Talwar Committee to freeze the GDS system in order to departmentalize all the existing GDS should be given a due consideration.
6. In order to departmentalize the GDS, the department should consider for fixing the norms for the following works immediately.
1. Work related to MNREGS payment.
2. Work related to verification of Electoral roll & Election work.
3. Work related to collecting statistics for Census etc.
4. Work related to verification of mobile phone connections of BSNL & others.
5. Work related to acceptance of Electricity bills, water bills & telephone bills.
6. Work related to business activities, social security schemes introduced in various circles.
If time factors for all the work performed by the GDS is formulated, certainly it will pave way for the regularization of many GDS who are actually working for more than six hours but not availed the benefits of departmentalization.
If all the GDS are departmentalized by scrapping the existing GDS system with eight hours work and each official is assigned with various new works to improve the functioning of rural post offices in order to make it more remunerative will overcome the financial problem. This vast infrastructure will really be an invaluable asset to the department in this era of e-commerce and e-governance and not at all a liability. If post offices are kept open for more hours by introducing more new items of work, there is every possibility of increasing the workload.
It is humbly requested to kindly consider the above and cause action to departmentalise the rural post offices and improve the rural postal network.
2. CONSIDERATION OF GDS ISSUES BY THE SEVENTH CPC
The observation of the Fourth Central Pay Commission on this issue is furnished inter alia:
"A letter was received from the Ministry of Communications (P&T Board) for exclusion of the extra departmental employees, numbering about 3 lakhs, from the purview of our inquiry. It was stated that the system of extra departmental agents was peculiar to the P&T organisation and was designed to extend postal facilities in rural and backward areas where opening of regular departmental post offices was not justified due to inadequate workload. The remuneration and the conditions of service of Extra Departmental Agents were also different from those of regular Government employees. The Third Pay Commission accepted the view that the extra departmental agents were not holders of civil posts and decided to exclude them from its purview.
The matter is, however, beyond controversy after the decision of the Supreme Court in Gokulananda Das's case where it has been declared that an Extra Departmental Agent is not a casual worker but 'holds a post under the administrative control of the state' and that while such a post is outside the regular civil services, there is no doubt that it is a post under the 'state'. In view of this pronouncement, we were unable to accept the contention that extra departmental employees were outside the purview of the terms of our commission. They, no doubt, have their own peculiar conditions of service and, in that sense, their case is somewhat special. We, therefore, could not exclude them from our consideration, but we accepted the Government's suggestion for the setting up of a one - man committee to look to their conditions of service as was done by the Second and Third pay commissions."
From the above observation, it is crystal clear that the Fourth Pay Commission was in the conclusion that the ED Agents are civil servants even though they are kept outside the regular civil service and therefore their cases are included within the purview of the pay commissions. In fact, all the earlier committees headed by the officers did no justice to this category and the report of the Justice Talwar on GDS had gone to dust bin by rejecting almost all the recommendations. We have explained in details that they should be treated as holders of civil posts for all purposes and their service condition, pay and other issues should be considered only by the Pay Commission. Justice Talwar has observed in his report that in future, there is no need for separate committee to address the problems of GDS and it will be remitted directly to the Pay Commissions. The Dept of Posts also sought clarifications from the nodal ministries whether their case can be remitted to the proposed Seventh Pay Commission vide its letter dated 17.2.2014 and therefore we request that the issues of the GDS may please be remitted to the seventh pay commission for consideration.
3. WITHDRAW THE NEW GDS (CONDUCT & ENGAGEMENT) RULES, 2011 AND BRING THEM UNDER THE CCS (CCA) RULES 1965.
The P&T ED Agents (Conduct & Service) Rules 1959 were framed treating the ED agents as holders of civil posts within the ambit of Article 309 and 311 of the Union Constitution on the advice of the Law Ministry itself. But after the 2nd Central Pay Commission, the Extra Departmental Agents (now called Gramin Dak Sevaks) were separated from the regular Central Govt. employees and treated as a distinct category by framing separate set of rules called “Postal Extra Departmental Agents (Conduct & Service) Rules, 1964” which are not statutory.
The Supreme Court in its remarkable Judgement in 1977 in the case of P.K. Rajamma held that the EDAs (GDS) are holders of civil post and comes under the provisions of the Article 311 of the Union Constitution. Despite the fact, the Department of Posts modified the EDA (Conduct & Service) Rules, 1964 into Gramin Dak Sevak (Conduct & Employment) Rules, 2001 which is also a non-statutory Rules. After the Nataraja Murthy Committee, the said non-statutory rules were again amended and modified as Gramin Dak Sevak (Conduct & Engagement) Rules, 2011. All these rules are non-statutory ones. The following two provisions will exhibit the cruelty of the revised Rules 2011.
i. The Rule 3 of GDS (Conduct & Engagement) Rules 2011 affirms that the GDS employees shall be outside the civil service of the Union and a sevak shall not claim to be par with the Government Servant (this should be deleted and the facilities should be extended to the GDS officials as applied to the whole time Govt Servant.)
ii. The Rule 9 does not classify the penalties into minor and major penalty. There is no provision of withholding of increment for specific years and a reduction in TRCA. (In the absence of such provisions, even for minor charges, the GDS employees are awarded with a major penalty of removal, dismissal etc.)
Therefore, it is requested to withdraw the non-statutory rules and apply the Central Civil Service (Classification, Control & Application) [CCS (CCA)] Rules 1965 to the Gramin Dak Sevaks as they are declared as the holders of the civil post by the Apex Court in 1977 itself.
4. ENSURE MINIMUM STATUTORY MONTHLY PENSION OF RS.3500/- TO GDS AND GRANT ALL OTHER RETIREMENT BENEFITS LIKE GRATUITY ETC., BASED ON THE FORMULA APPLICABLE TO DEPARTMENTAL EMPLOYEES AND UNDER GRATUITY ACT, 1972 BESIDES FAMILY PENSION FACILITY TO GDS.
It is long a pending demand for Gramin Dak Sevaks who expected to get some social security for their old age life, retiring at the age of 65, after serving the department for decades with meagre allowances. The Supreme Court held that they are holders of Civil Posts. Their relationship is Master and Servant. As such, they are entitled for pension and other retirement benefits. Justice Talwar also observed that the ED Agents deserve grant of pension not only because of the social obligation of the State but also due to Rule 2 of the Pension Rules which is applicable in their cases also. Justice Talwar categorically emphasised that they are entitled and eligible for pension and other retirement benefits at par with departmental employees. This was not accepted.
Though a scheme introduced later after the Natarajamurthy Committee recommendation for GDS called ‘Service Discharge Benefit Scheme’, no minimum guarantee has been provided to get certain amounts in a benefitable way besides the amount earned from GDS remained with others without any obligation from the Dept. or Govt. A minimum guaranty amount in the name of pension should be ensured and it also should be extended to the eligible bereaved family member as a family pension.
Similarly, under the provisions of Gratuity Act, 1972 GDS should get the benefits of Statutory Gratuity and the existing one is against to the provisions of the Gratuity Act 1972. The Hon’ble Supreme Court also held and declared that full benefit of Gratuity would be given to GDS under the State’s Act.
It is therefore requested that they should be brought under the Pension scheme at par with regular departmental official and also covered under the Gratuity Act 1972.
5. REDUCE CASH HANDLING NORMS FROM RS.20,000 TO RS.4,000 AND ALSO STAMP SALE NORMS.
The Natarajamurthy Committee has drastically reduced the work norms around twenty times which determines the Time Related Continuity Allowance (TRCA) of GDS and in particular, the norms for cash handling has been revised twenty times higher than the existing which reflected reduction of wages to the maximum Branch Postmasters and brought them to minimum TRCA. The Committee appointed under the Chairmanship of Sri P. Gopinath to review the retrograde recommendations of Natarajamurthy Committee by the Secretary, Department of Posts before their implementation had recommended that atleast the cash handling norms should be Rs.10000/- instead of the proposed Rs.20000/-. Whereas, it has not been considered by the Cabinet stating that the second committee appointed by the Department is not the statutory committee and not considered any of its recommendations on this subject. This gives a big blow and kicking below the belt of the GDS and on the nature of working conditions of the BO. The reason behind imposing such a norm is far away from the practical observations prevailing in the work spot of the department.
The same was discussed once again by the Special committee appointed for the same purpose under the Chairmanship of Sri V. P. Singh and the Committee through its report submitted on 27.4.2012 recommended to reduce the cash handling amount from Rs.20000 to Rs. 10000/- for getting one point. The Internal Finance Wing has raised queries and not allowed to implement the decisions of the two Committee’s recommendations as well as the assurance of the Secretary, Department of Posts in various occasions to Unions in writing. The genuine problem is being protracted, prolonged and snatched away the salary of the poor GDS who faced reduction of monthly wages heavily.
At present, the 50 points for fixation of TRCA to GDS BPM could be earned only after making transactions to the tune of Rs.10,00,000/- per month in rural offices under the small savings schemes viz., Post Office Recurring Deposit (PORD), Post Office Time Deposit (POTD), Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI). On an average a BO works for 25 days in a month, the BPM has to handle cash Rs.40,000/- per day by working in a BO for 3 hours which is practically not feasible and unimaginable to do the transactions in rural areas apart from handling cash to such extent.
Similarly it is not at all possible to sell the stamps in a BO to the extent of Rs. 900/- to earn one point for the BPM. The norms revised can be applied to bigger head post offices not to the rural branch post offices. This has resulted in erosion of wages to the BPMs. Further it resulted in abolition of many GDS stamp vendors posts.
The Department has agreed to provide norms for cash remittance from branch office to account office vice versa in January 2012 itself whereas no action has so far been taken to provide points to the BPM for fixation of TRCA.
Apart from the above, the following irregularities and injustice prevailing in determination of norms may be sorted out
1. In case of item of work (i) – the assessment of points on handling of unregistered letter 3 days test figures to be taken during the middle of the month. This will not suffice to fulfill the norms as there are vast changes are taking place in transmission of mail etc. and suggested that at least 15 days average figures may be taken into consideration and the staff check may be for 5 days.
2. Savings Bank transactions – There is no norms fixed on the work related to Indiramma Housing Scheme accounts, BPL accounts etc.
3. There is no specific mention about the periodicity for revision of allowances to BPMs based on new norms.
4. Assessment of work load on the average of four quarterly month is unjustified as there is vast diversity of nature of work in BO depending upon various conditions prevailing in villages, the necessity for availing leave by BPMs etc. caused fluctuations in points arrived that too last year of the periodicity leads discontinuance of regular work in BOs and suggested to take an average of 12 months during the periodicity for revision.
It is therefore requested to review the revised norms scientifically and protect the GDS for the unwarranted wage cut.
6. ENSURE FULL PROTECTION OF TRCA WHEN THERE IS FALL IN THE WORK LOAD. TRCA SHOULD NOT BE REDUCED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
The provision of protection of allowances (TRCA) to GDS was introduced in 1970s and there are clear cut instructions that under any circumstances, the wages of the GDS should not be reduced. As the policy decision that the salary drawn by a Govt official should not be reduced under any circumstances, the provision was made as a security to this poor GDS. Recently, after the drastic and unrealistic cut in the norms, many GDS have lost their pay to the extent of Rs.1500 to Rs.1800 per month and they have lost more than 25% of their monthly income. When the issue was discussed with Hon’ble Minister of State for Communications & IT on 17.1.2012, the Hon’ble MoSC assured that there will be no reduction in the wages of the GDS. Whereas, in the orders released by the department, the protection of wages was extended only to one year. In no department, such wage reduction is taking place.
It is therefore requested to consider and rescind the orders of the department providing protection for one year thereby confirming the provisions prevailing in more than three decades that under no circumstances, the wages should be reduced to these GDS in the Department of Posts.
7. REMOVE THE OUTSIDE RECRUITMENT QUOTA FOR POSTMAN & MTS RECRUITMENT AND 100% POSTMAN & MTS VACANCIES BE GIVEN TO GDS.
The Revised Recruitment Rules, 2012 curtailed the opportunity of the seniority-cum-selection from the GDS to Postman and vacant unfilled posts after the selection through departmental examination from GDS & MTS would be thrown to open market which is unjust and against the stand adhered over five decades. Similarly, the vacant unfilled posts of MTS (25%) offered to open market is also much discouraging for the senior GDS officials for their selection under seniority-cum-selection provision. The provision of 50% seniority cum selection has been totally snatched away. The promotions to MTS and Postmen from the GDS cadre are treated as direct recruitment only. As such there is no need to remit the unfilled up vacancies again to open market. The 50 years old age practice has been modified resulting in the freezing of fair chances to the three lakh GDS who are waiting for the regular absorption in the departmental posts like postmen and MTS.
As the GDSs are rendering their unblemished and efficient services for the department with meagre allowances for decades, the little opportunity of selection ensured earlier to enter departmental cadre shall be protected.
8. REMOVE THE 50 POINTS CONDITION AND PROVIDE COMPASSIONATE APPOINTMENT TO ALL ELIGIBLE DEPENDENTS IN THE FAMILIES OF DECEASED GDSs.
The present parameters laid down for the selection of eligible candidates from the bereaved families of deceased GDSs for compassionate appointment in GDS posts is totally unjustified. The selection of an eligible and qualified person from a bereaved family is nothing but to ensure and protect the family of the deceased GDS and that should not be restricted in the name of merit points etc.
In many cases, the conditions could not fulfilled up to 50 points due to village conditions, education etc. Resultantly, the compassionate appointments are summarily rejected and the family of the deceased GDS are in lurch and left with the same indigent conditions.
It is therefore requested to kindly consider the same and remove the minimum 50 point condition and provide opportunities to the bereaved family members of the GDS.
9. REVIEW OF CASH CONVEYANCE ALLOWANCE
After introduction of various schemes in the BOs viz., MNREGS, Indiramma Housing Scheme, Social Security Payments, POSB, RPLI payments, Bill Collections etc., the quantum of monetary transactions and remittances have been increased manifold and the conveyance of cash from AO to BO vice versa is almost order of the day. The recommendations of the Natarajamurthy Committee to grant Rs.50 as allowance for cash remittance to meet the expenditure on each occasion has been wrongly briefed to the Cabinet as Rs.50 per month and it has been approved as Rs.50 per month only which is not at all sufficient to meet the conveyance with heavy risk factors carrying lakhs of rupees for MGNREGS payment etc by the GDS officials. It is necessary to revise the instructions accordingly as per the recommendations of the Committee to meet the expenses of GDS working in BOs in such occasions carrying heavy cash in risk.
10. PAYMENT OF RENT FOR BO BY THE DEPARTMENT OR REQUEST TO ENHANCE THE GRANT OF OMA @ RS.500/- PER MONTH
According to the rules, the Branch Office should be maintained in the premises or the house secured by the BPM. In fact in many cases, the selection of a BPM is from a distant place and the incumbent has to secure house in that BO village by paying rent to the building for such post offices. The demand of rent is more in villages near by the towns and caused the BPM hard to afford house rent hugely from their pocket. The present sanction of Office Maintenance Allowance could not meet the very purpose of running a BO in the premises of the house of the BPM and the OMA needs to be revised at least to Rs.500/- per month till such expenditure borne by the department.
11. WELFARE MEASURES TO THE GDS
Notwithstanding our request for departmentalisation of GDS, the following sensitive and serious issues pertaining to GDS are being protracted and not considered for years together.
i. Grant of all kinds of leave including casual leave, earned leave, commuted leave and special casual leave as in the case of departmental employees.
ii. The women GDS are being granted only three months wages from welfare fund in lieu of maternity leave (not maternity leave) whereas other departmental women employees are entitled for six months maternity leave and two years child care leave. The leave salary shall be paid from the salary head and not from the welfare fund collected from the GDS.
iii. The restriction on transfers by mentioning specific cases of GDS and reduction in the TRCA in case of transfer have not been relaxed.
iv. The request of three time bound promotions or financial upgradation granted departmental employees may be extended to all the GDS on completion of 10, 20 and 30 years of service in GDS cadre, has not been entertained by the department. Some career progression should be introduced to motivate the GDS.
v. Unscientific combination of duties resorting in BPMs and other cadres causes reduction of business and also it is the exploitation. The combination of duties should be thwarted.
vi. At present, there is no incentive increment for small family norms or there is no provision of educational assistance like CEA. No welfare provision is available. Even, no medical facilities have been provided yet. The medical insurance scheme as recommended by the Committee has not yet been finalized. At present they are not having any reimbursement of medical expenditure. It should be provided.
vii. There is no Leave Travel facilities provided to GDS. Similarly, they have not been granted with any advance except bicycle advance.
viii. There is abnormal delay in sanction of RPLI incentives to the GDS and in many circles the bills are pending over two years. This will demotivate the officials in securing more business to the department. The prompt payment of incentive every month shall be ensured.
In short, the GDS system is still remaining as an anachronism and it should be revamped by making all the GDS as full time employees by entrusting more work, utilizing them optimum for the postal service which will improve our service as well as enthusiasm to the GDS further .
We fervently request you Sir, to kindly bestow your personal attention and mitigate the grievances of the three lakh workforce in the Department of Posts who are praying mercy and fair play before you with their folded hands over three decades.
With profound regards,
(M. Krishnan) (P. Panduranga Rao)
Secretary General General Secretary
NFPE AIPEU-GDS (NFPE)