Under pressure from postal department unions, the Government has decided to review it's to decision to open 100 private franchise post offices across the country. Currently, at least one such post office is functioning in Tamil Nadu.
The order to open private postal outlets was passed by the Government in October 2006. According to the order, these outlets were to be opened across the country in cities and towns. The agreement with the private partner was to be based either on profit sharing or commission basis.
The cancellation of the order was one of the main demands of the two major postal department unions – Federation of National Postal Organisations (FNPO) and National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) – which had threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 24. More than 5.5 lakh employees of the postal department owe allegiance to the two unions.
After a protracted meeting between the two unions and the department of post, represented by chairman of the postal board, IMG Khan, over Thursday and Friday, the Government decided to review the opening of more privately run post offices. The strike has also been postponed.
"The government has decided to examine our demand that the postal department, which is an operating department, be exempted from downsizing. Since 2001, the jobs of more than 50000 employees, including 15000-2000 postmen, have been cut. In the meeting, we were told that a note has been prepared on the request by the Communication Ministry and would be soon put up in front of the Cabinet," said C Pillai, NFPE general secretary.
Pillai said the government has also agreed to look into the demand for setting up of a judicial commission to look into increasing the pay structure of "grameen dak sevaks". Khan told the union delegation that the demand would be put up to the Union Finance Ministry and the Cabinet, as they are the authorities to examine the demand.
The vast postal network, in urban and rural areas of India, had come to a standstill when the employees had gone on a two-week strike in 2000. This time, the strike would have not only affected the normal functioning of post offices, but also the many financial activities, including collecting of IT returns besides dispatching passports through speedpost, the outlets conduct at present.