The 13th Foundation Day of All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association, the mighty and militant organisation falls on 21st October, 2021.
It was at Garhwal Bhawan, New Delhi AIBDPA was born in a Convention on 21-10-2009 participated by delegates from almost all the Circles. BSNL Employees Union, the largest and only recgnised Union of the Non-executives at that time took the decision to form a separate Pensioners Organisation in its Central Executive Committee Meeting held at Mysuru on 27th to 29th August, 2009. The decision was taken due to the galloping of Pensioners issues like Denial of benefits of 50% IDA merger to pre 2007 pensioners, Pension Revision to pre 2007 BSNL retirees in IDA Pay, Non- settlement of anomaly in Pension to those retired within ten months of formation of BSNL etc. These issues were included in the Charter of Demands of the United Forum of all unions in BSNLfor a phased program of Agitation culminated in the two day Strike on 19th and 20th August, 2009. Most importantly, the government was moving ahead for Parliamentary approval for the draconian Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) bill.
The Delhi Convention was historical for the participation of a galaxy of veterans and stalwarts like Com.M K Pandhe, then President, CITU and Vice President, WFTU, Com.S K Vyas, President, Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers and Secretary General, NCCPA and our own leaders, Com.V A N Namboodiri, General Secretary, BSNLU , Com.Ananta Kumar Bhattacharjee ( Kolkata) and Com.P V Chandrasekharan ( Kerala).
The inaugural address of Com.M.K. Pandhe was simply great and enthusiastic. He declared in uncertain terms that Pensioners are part and parcel of the working class and a force to be reckoned. The Pensioners have the potential to fight and unity with workers is necessary to achieve the important demands. Yes, these were the guidelines for the Policy and Programme adopted by the Convention. The background paper presented by Com.V A N Namboodiri and draft Constitution by the sub committee headed by Com.P V Chandrasekharan were adopted after discussion and with certain modifications. A 25 point Charter of Demands were identified including Withdraw PFRDA and scrap NPS, Grant Pension Revision to pre 2007 BSNL retirees in IDA pay, Settle the Anomaly in Pension to those retired within ten months of formation of BSNL .Parity in Pension, Enhance the monthly medical allowance of DoT retirees to Rs.1000, No disinvestment in BSNL.
The salient features of the Policy and Programme adopted were (1) Organise struggles for settlement of the demands.(2) Cordial relation with serving unions of BSNL and joining their struggles (3) Support and Solidarity to the struggles and strikes of Central Trade Unions.
The Convention elected Office Bearers with Com.V A N Namboodiri (Advisor) Com. P V Chandrasekharan ( Patron) Ananta Kumar Bhattacharjee ( President) K G Jayaraj ( General Secretary).
An Office Bearers’ Meeting was held on 14-12-2009 and reviewed the outcome of the meeting with Shri.A Raja, Communications Minister on 17-11-2009. The representatives could convince the Minister about the justification for pension revision on IDA pay scales. However,as there was no progress in respect of other demads, the meeting decided to give a call for a nationwide Dharna at SSA level on 29-01-2010. Not a single Circle Branch was formed at that time but we had the confidence on the Pensioners in the country. And it proved to be absolutely right with good response from every nook and corner of the country. It was the beginning of a series of struggles including Parliament March , Sanchar Bhavan March etc. during the eventful 12 years
AIBDPA got affiliated with NCCPA and BCPC, the apex organisations of pensioners associations. When an international organisation of Pensioners, TUI(P&R), was formed by WFTU in 2013 at Barcelona, Com.V A N Namboodiri represented AIBDPA and got affiliated. Com.V A N was elected as Member of Technical Committee. Com.K G Jayaraj attended the 2nd Congress of TUI(P&R) held at Bogota, Colombia in 2019 and was elected as Executive Board Member.
We feel proud that we could achieve significant gains during this period. Pension Revision for the pre 2007 BSNL Pensioners in IDA pay scales, Benefits on 78.2% IDA fixation, Annulment of 60:40 condition. Quarters to DoT and BSNL retirees, 60% concession on broadband connection, 40% concession on FTTH, Timely payment of IDA instalments, Rs.1000 monthly medical allowance to DOT retirees, Option 3 benefits to DOT retirees etc are the important achievements. Of late DoT has issued the orders for settlement of anomaly of BSNL Pensioners retired within10 months of formation of BSNL based on Supreme Court order. In this regard, BSNL Employees Union and AIBDPA had made concerted efforts and conducted several struggles for early settlement. The DoT issued an order in 2011 granting 50% of the minimum of the corresponding revised pay. This has given partial relief to some of the affected pensioners. We protested against this unilateral order and demanded final settlement as in the case of anomaly after 5th CPC implementation. Thereafter, while pursuing the issue further, some of the affected pensioners and one of the Pensioners Organisations filed cases in CATs and DoT refused to discuss the issue pleading subjudice. And that is how such a huge delay occurred in the settlement of anomaly.
We have grown as a class concious biggest organisation of BSNL and DoT Pensioners and the credit goes to thousands of Pensioners all over the country for reposing their faith in AIBDPA and their active participation in the struggles called by AIBDPA, NCCPA and United Forum/ Joint Forum/ AUAB. We thankfully acknowledge the effective interventions, struggles and strikes of the serving employees unions, particularly BSNLEU, NCCPA and Confederation for these achievements.
We have taken care to join the Struggles of Central Trade Unions during this period as part of our declared policy. We have also supported the ongoing historical struggle of the farmers against the anti-farmer farm laws enacted undemocratically by the Modi government. A humble donation of Rs.5 lakh was given to the All India Kisan Sabha. As per CHQ call our Comrades have contributed liberally to the PM Care Fund and Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund through the Circle Branches.
Ensuring democratic functioning is very important for any progressive organization. AIBDPA have held three triennial All India Conferences in 2013, 2016 and 2019 at Kannur, Tirupathi and Kolkata, respectively. Central Executive Committee Meetings are also held at regular intervals as per constitutional provisions.
The formation of Coordination Committee of BSNLEU, AIBDPA and BSNL CCWF and the joint struggles being launched has given added vigour and confidence amongst the employees, Pensioners and contract workers.
Still, we have to go a long way. Many important issues are yet to be resolved. Denial of medical benefits to BSNL Pensioners by the arrogant BSNL management is the most burning issue. Pension Revision due from 2017 with 15% fitment delinking wage revision is being dragged unjustifiably by the government. DR/ IDA instalments are being delayed without issuing orders. AIBDPA have conducted many effective countrywide struggles on these demands as decided by our Guwahati CEC. 110 Parliament Members including Ministers and Speaker, Lok Sabha were met and memorandum given. The Parliament March scheduled to be held on 12-03-2020 had to be postponed due to the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic.
Attempts are reported to be in the pipeline to scuttle the statutory defined Pension system by limiting the pension of older Pensioners of 70-75 to a fixed amount, Despite Revival Package for BSNL declared in October,2019, nothing except VRS is implemented. CHQ’ s timely intervention ensured Provisional Pension to the VRS retirees. The government and BSNL managementare are hand in glove to eliminate BSNL as part of anti- PSU policy being vigorously pursued by Modi government. These are the issues of paramount importance.
AIBDPA is the only Pensioners Association that intervened against freezing of three IDA instalments from 01-10-2020 to 30-06-2021. We took up the issue with the Minister of Public Enterprises stating that the freezing is not applicable to BSNL Pensioners. Though the Minister and DPE agreed to our argument, no further action was taken either by DoT or DPE. Thereafter AIBDPA filed a writ petition in the Honourable Kerala High Court and got a favourable Interim Order. But DoT has not implemented it and we are continuing the efforts for the final order.
So it is in this background ,we have to celebrate the 13th Foundation Day of our beloved AIBDPA on 21-10-2021. CHQ is organising a national level Webinar at 4 to 6 PM on this day. Details of the Webinar will be intimated in due course. Kindly ensure the silent participation of maximum Comrades,as there is no limit in the number of participants in the Webinar using Zoom technology. Circle/ District Secretaries are requested to celebrate the Foundation Day befittingly at all levels by hoisting AIBDPA flag, holding meetings, honouring super seniors, distributing sweets, distributing food/ clothes to the needy etc. Photos and reports be sent to CHQ.
Unity is our Motto.
Struggle is our Path.
Long live AIBDPA.
With warm Greetings,
K G Jayaraj