KOCHI: The ongoing postal strike has dealt a major blow for those planning an urgent trip abroad like students going for higher studies, parents visiting children, companies sending employees for onsite jobs etc.It is learnt that till Monday, around 18,000 passports have piled up in post offices across Kerala. If the strike by the Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS), which entered the eighth day on Tuesday, continues, the number could go up further. Delay in getting the passports have also resulted in skirmishes between people and the officials in the Regional Passport Office, Ernakulam.
Around 9,000 passports are held up in regions of the Regional Passport Office, including districts of Idukki, Palakkad, Ernakulam, and Thrissur. “We issue 1,200 passports per day. Tatkal passports, issued during emergencies, have been limited to 150 to 200 per day as there is no provision to increase the number considering the present situation,” said a senior official from Regional Passport Office.
The passport officials have also added that in Kerala around 18,000 passports have been piled up till Monday. “We were supposed to leave for abroad next week to visit our children and if our passports do not arrive within the week it will be a loss for us,” said Jaya Nair, a city resident.
The strike of GDS, started from May 22, was called by a joint action committee with the support of the National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) and the Federation of National Postal Organisations in protest against the non-implementation of the pay commission’s report for pay revision of Dak Sevaks. The Bank Employees Federation of India (Befi) and Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) have also declared solidarity for the strike.
The strike has disrupted the postal and the Railway Mail Service (RMS) services across the state, affecting the public. The “lackadaisical attitude of the Centre” is making the situation worse, said the striking trade union members. “In Ernakulam district alone there are around 130 sub-post offices and 170 branch postal offices and therefore altogether 47,500 postal mails are getting accumulated,” said O C Joy, secretary of Samara Sahaya Samadhi and also district secretary, Central Government Employees Union, Ernakulam.
The distribution of passports, speed post services, insurance, postal savings bank, and postal ATMs have also come to a standstill. Through savings bank accounts the transactions of more than 7.5 crores have been hit due to the strike. Delivery of mails to educational institutions, courts, have been hit due to the strike.“In Kerala, there are around 25,000 postal employees 15,000 are Gramin Das Sevaks and their needs have to be addressed by the Centre. These GDS are paid lower compared to others and the Centre is not even taking proper actions against it,” said Joy.