An Appeal To BSNL Unions and Association of Pensioners
Settling clash of Interests
- R . Pattabiraman
My intention of writing more and more on Pension Revision is not to create any bitterness amongst the Pensioners or amongst the associations. In order to share my concern only, I am bringing the points that are troubling my mind.
When lakhs of pensioners are welcoming the CAT judgment as it specifies parity with CPC - regarding pension revision, why should I hesitate to join the celebrations- is it because of any narrowness or dark side of my heart?. Certainly not. I have learnt the art of respecting all the leaders labouring the cause of our pensioners’ folk. But when I differ, I point out the areas where we need understanding and light. I think that is healthy in any democratic environment.
There are two major streams in dealing the case of revision of pension. One agreeing to go with the stream of 3rd PRC and another with 7 th CPC.
The intention of CPC seekers is fine , and by that they want to bring a permanent solution to the revision of pension binding themselves with the CG pensioners getting pension revision at least in every ten years thro CPC recommendations. Their efforts in every time helped them to advance step by step and culminated in the PB CAT judgment of Sep 20, 2023. Naturally the leaders worked for it may feel proud of their actions and the lakhs of pensioners followed them in jubilant mood. Definitely the members would stand with the leadership and support them in all ways as per the calls coming.
The intention of 3 rd PRC seekers is also a good one, and they acted with an understanding to stand on 3rd PRC, in order to take post 2017 also with them by some methods in the absence of pay revision. Pay revision if comes as per 3 rd PRC, or not at all coming- then that methodology for post 2017 should not create any clash of interests amongst the pre and post 2017 sections till the next PRC. They know that as long as employee are there - that is post pensioners on a particular cutoff date is there, there should be a binding as per 37 A.
This binding is well established after Nagara judgment in Central Govt section. The CPCs are recommending both the pay revision of employees on the particular date and revision of pension to the existing pensioners on that same date. So there is no clash of interest in determining pension fixation of the employees retiring after that particular date, and revision of pension on that date to the existing pensioners of that date.
CPCS are announced for both pay and pension revision on CDA and simultaneous implementation is also assured there. This situation is not analogous in the case of BSNL employees and pensioners. Here employees are getting pay on IDA from BSNL their employer, but after retirement they are getting pension from GOI thro DOT, fixed on the basis of LPD on IDA. Pay revision is done thro PRC recommendations for Executives and for NE as per agreement reached with unions as that of any PSUs. But a peculiar special provision was arranged thro 37 A rules for getting pension from Govt after retirement as per Govt formula on that equivalent date. Thanks to the wisdom of com OP Gupta and thanks to the Govt on that date of that year 2000. So our position is not analogous to CG position where simultaneously both pay and pension revision is done from a single source namely CPC.
Settling clash of Interests
How to settle clash of interests amicably in parity is the biggest question that needs solution. We all 4 lakhs as employees came together 0n 1-10-2000 to BSNL, the PSU. After employees started retiring, a new minor section viz. BSNL absorbed pensioners started appearing. Their pension was safeguarded as that of Govt formula, though they are getting more than their CG counterparts due to IDA settlement. This section started growing and becoming a major section today and employees existing becoming minor due to retirements and VRS.
When we get revision of pay on 1-10-2000, taking us to the road of PRC- no clash of interest was felt with the CG CDA pensioners on that date. No Nagara was invited to settle, as no one - neither CG pensioners nor BSNL employees felt any anomaly between them.
But when BSNL Executives got their pay revision on 2009 and NE got on 2010 w.e.f the same 1-1-2007 date thro 2nd pRC, a clash of interest was felt not only by both the sections, but also by DOT the pension provider. One section of pensioners were still in first PRC mode, whereas the pensioners coming after 1-1-2007- the post 2007 started getting pension in their 2nd PRC mode scales and pay. This was the clash and Nagara entered to solve that. After pensioners’ associations demanded and struggled, the clash was amicably settled and the pre 2007 pensioners were also allowed to travel in the 2nd PRC mode. After that the bonding was re-established amongst the BSNL absorbees.
During 3rd PRC, BSNL was not in a position to give pay revision to its employees due to affordability issue. On formation of 7th CPC, some associations want ‘delinking’ from the BSNL employees and establish their ‘binding with CG pensioners’ as both are getting pension from CG. Their demand started creating clash of interests between the existing employees of BSNL and Pensioners retired as on 1-1-2017.
Now the PB CAT judgment is in their hand. According to me, that judgment delivered on Sep 20th 2023 escalated the clash of interests between these pre and post 2017 sections to a new height. Now the clash of interests has to face not only the authorities of BSNL/ DOT but also the new legal stamp. The judgment directs revision of pension as per CG rules and parity with CG pensioners, wherever applicable.
Pension revision is not applicable to BSNL existing employees on 1-1-2017 (if that direction meant so) or as on existing employees on 1-1-2016 (if that direction is taken as per CG rules and parity ). Employees as on 1-1-2017 are only eligible (if at all any change in pay and pay scales) for 3rd PRC, and no question comes here for employees on 1-1-2016, they were part of 2nd PRC culminating period only. In order to avoid this confusion, date may be taken as 1-1-2017. Any way employees, whether they are applicants to this case or others, they are not eligible to any pension revision on that 1-1-2017. They are not pensioners on that date.
I am not a legal person, but a man applying common sense in this case. So the clash of interests is evident, if this judgment is implemented as per CPC to pre 2017 pensioners. They will go in that CPC method of revision , where as the existing employees as on 1-1-2017 may continue to go on 2nd PRC stream to get their pension fixed. This clash needs to be resolved. According to my limited knowledge, settling the clash with CPC is difficult comparing settling the clash with PRC.
If CPC is implemented, the question arises is how to fix the same benefit to the employees in PRC scales. Benefit of pay change is possible if pay revision is settled or notional PPO as suggested by DOT is made acceptable by the concerned authorities as per 3rd PRC. It is difficult to apply 7th CPC and its scales to the employees on 1-1-2017 in BSNL. Unless this mechanism is solved, the clash of interests created by the judgment stands. It is comparatively easy to settle the clash by applying 3rd PRC scales and pay. But the judgment stands a bar to this. Unless this judgment is set right and made not an issue amongst the pre and post 2017, the solution is difficult.
Otherwise DOT should accept the arguments of these associations, that is ‘CPC is the permanent solution - legal stamp is also there, so do accordingly’ . In that case the DOT should find a way to solve the issue of PRC employees by keeping parity with CG employees on that date.
Are we aiming the possibility of 7th CPC fitment and scales to employees also as on 1-1-2017 ( 1-1-2016), as celebrating the parity of revision of pension as per CG rules from 1-1-2017( 1-1-2016) ? My common sense is not supporting that. Unions need to think this aspect.
I will be happy, if I am proved wrong and made to enjoy the CPC benefits that you all bring by your hard labour. Best Wishes.
11.30 hrs 4-10-2023