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TECHNOLOGY SWEEP IN DEPARTMENT OF POSTS PRESENT & FUTURE VISION CHALLENGES BEOFORE MANAGEMENT AND STAFF ROLE OF SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS
Dear President – Respected Chief Guest the Member Technology Postal Services Board – Office Bearers of NFPE – General Secretaries of Affiliated Unions – and System Administrators from all over the country - National Federation of Postal Employees extends a very warm welcome to all of you in this All India Seminar. It is indeed our pleasure to have the Member Technology with us today as our Chief Guest for the presentation of his valuable paper and Speech on the theme of this Seminar organised by the National Federation of Postal Employees. Technology is getting revolutionised every day and its sweep is universal. We all know that the change in production machinery is a continuous process in the development of human history. Social Science teaches us that with this change in production tools the whole relations between various sections of human society also changes. Modern Society however relies on the revolutionary changes in production tools for its continued existence. We live in a modern society and therefore the revolutionising of the production tools is a regular process occurring frequently. Those who possess the technology and the technological tools will alone be able to dominate and this applies to country or industry or every field. Postal Departments are no exception to this rule. If these ever changing technological tools are not brought into its own operations, the Indian Postal Department also cannot survive in the world of stiff competition caused by the dictates of liberalisation and globalisation.
The Indian Postal Department’s entry into the new technology and its growth has been slow in comparison to the advanced western countries and some of the countries of Asia Pacific Region. However the trend has been changed and India Post is embarking into a high-tech postal operative organisation step by step. Computerisation of Postal Operations in all Head Post Offices, Divisional Offices and Regional and Circle Offices as well as 24,000 Departmental Sub Offices have been completed. Extending the computerisation to 60,000 Branch Offices is in the offing as per the Five Year Plan Guidelines. RFID technology has been introduced recently in India amongst 30 other nations and this may be extended large scale soon. Networking of PLI operations by establishing a Central Server; Networking of all offices in order to enter into core-banking services of our POSB Operations etc are awaiting to be launched soon. More over the Department of Posts has entered into an MOU with the Technology Consultant ‘’ACCENTURE’ for designing and developing a new information technology architecture and system. Thus the technology sweep in the Department of Posts is anticipated to reach very high level in the coming months. As part of the technology sweep, the entire staffs of the Department are to be trained and retrained to adapt to the new technology environment. This is one of the challenges before the Department that contains a large work force not fully tuned to work in a most modern technological environment. It is also a fact that the Department lacks infrastructure facilities for launching massive training and retraining programmes for its very large work force. Training programmes were indeed launched and continuing but still inadequate to train the staff in handling the technology. Funding for imparting computer skills in renowned institutions like NIFT etc have not been encouraged due to either lack of funds and absence of administrative initiative. A large work force was expected to learn technology by its own individual efforts which are a challenge to employees because most of the staff had never even operated a type writer machine. The Department was handicapped with the lack of fresh talent from market entering the India Post due to ban on recruitment etc. Entry of fresh talent in different cadres would have helped enormously. The lack of technical knowledge had led the department to waste its resources also in the purchase of outdated technology in the shape of establishment of AMPCs. The affair turned out to be too costly and wastage since we lacked operational knowledge and the technical know how and we were forced to import any spare part from the manufacturer only. We have not been able to use the technology to its fullest capacity and such gigantic machines are not being operated to its potential is a open secret. The advanced countries have gone for further improved automated machines but are selling their outdated machines to under-developed countries. The Department also was handicapped with the absence of a Technology Wing with expert personnel for establishing the infrastructure all over the country. But the knowledgeable layer of Postal Assistants and Sorting Assistants have come forward with initiative and enthusiasm in this gigantic work and grew in practical experience in administering a vast network of computerised operations efficiently. They were subsequently got the new
nomenclature ‘System Administrators’ without any such cadre came into being officially. Thus one of the challenges and costliest operations for establishing computerized operations at the all India level of a very vast networked department had been accomplished without any extra expenditure. Through these System Administrators most of the staffs have come to learn to handle computers in their day to day operations and thus one of the biggest challenges before the Administration has been moderately over come. But there is inadequacy in the level of training and retraining required. Now the face of India Post is changing very fast. Higher level of technology is being inducted in different fields in addition to large scale computerisation. It is our estimation that this will definitely necessitate augmentation of the strength of System Administrators in accordance with the level of expansion. But there is always a question that what type of infrastructure will be in place to handle the technology in future. The System Administrators themselves are not a cadre approved by the Recruitment Rules. The role of Mysore Postal Training College in developing indigenous software in several operations of India Post without depending on IT outsiders is a marvel. The role of System Administrators had been very fundamental in establishing and running of the computerized operations of India Post. It is our modest expectation that these services and huge contribution of the techsavvy officials of Department of Posts that saved the Department of Posts crores of rupees expenditure for more than a decade, will receive due recognition of the Postal Services Board and they will be absorbed in any type of technology wing that may come into being shortly. NFPE analyses to discover that the actual work of System Administrators presently is not one of Data Entry Operation. It is equal to computer engineer who attends to system faults, software installation, imparting training to staff both supervisory and operative, attend to trouble shooting of all nature, installation of computers in offices, taking backup of all data, attending to networking in offices etc. It has been the policy of the 6 th CPC to offer PB-2 with 4200/- Grade Pay for all Data Processing Assistants in all departments. Unfortunately the System Administrators who perform duties like that of a computer engineer with work stress much more than the data processing assistants are placed in the level of Data entry operators because there had been no cadre created for System Administrators so far in the Department of Posts. Therefore the work of system administration has been performed for more than 10 years by these System Administrators for a lesser wage level without any additional monetary compensation. In addition to the above, it is also a matter of concern that these System Administrators have been one of the most exploited unintentionally if not by design. They have no work norms and therefore any office, any time, any day, any climate and any problem, they have to attend trouble shooting. This factor is ignored by some part of Administration and even the accidents occurred after 6 P.M. are treated as beyond office hours and facilities like disability leave etc are denied. They are not provided for any road mileage allowance or any other compensation in many circles leaving them spend from their own
pockets. There has to be a work norm and scientific work allocation under which system administrators are to be allotted based on number of computers or number of offices within certain radius etc. The absence of such norms had resulted in extreme work pressure and strain on them and even leading to issue of charge sheets against system administrators in some places and for lapses committed by other staff, the system administrators are made subsidiary offenders. There has to be a system of monetary compensation for the extra time put in by these staff beyond their normal eight hours of regular work and invariably no OTA or financial compensation had been claimed or sanctioned for all the hours of extra work put in by them beyond eight hours. The untimely calls on any day including Sundays and holidays by staff to the personal cell phones of system administrators are in fact intrusion into the privacy. Provision of departmental cell phones exclusively for official use is therefore fully justified. The System Administrators have to learn and master each and every patch supplied by Department and has to be in constant look out and monitoring of work performed by offices. Therefore every System Administrator has to be supplied with an Official Computer for installation in the residence of these staff. The System Administrators are serving in the capacity of technology teaching faculty but they are not sanctioned with the benefits normally sanctioned to faculty in Postal Training Centres. In fact the 90% of technology training is being imparted to staff by the System Administrators only. NFPE requests our Chief Guest, the Postal Services Board Member Technology that he may kindly intervene to cause proper order to deal all the above situations. While doing so, the demands in the charter annexed to this paper may also be given due consideration. Sir, these Officials have worked without any such benefits, which alone show that there is every justification for recognizing their services and incorporating them in the new technology wing as System Administrators Cadre. We are apprehensive that without a favourable disposition from the Postal Board this may not ever take off. Taking in the consideration of all the above aspects, NFPE strongly desires to have a separate cadre called ‘Systems Administrators’ in the technology wing of the Department of Posts. As the existing System Administrators have proved their competence and excellence during the past decade, all of them shall be absorbed as Systems Administrators in the newly created cadre as a one time measure, if need be, through a trade test. In future, this cadre shall be a promotional cadre for the PAs/SAs and selection can be made through a qualifying/competitive examination/trade test. In future, suitable educational qualifications can also be fixed taking into account that most of the newly recruited PA/SAs are having sufficient technical Qualifications. For the existing System Administrators, the higher Qualification condition should be waived. In nutshell. It is the request of the NFPE before the Postal Services Board to take into account the valuable services being rendered by the existing System
Administrators, without which the Department of Posts could not have attained the degree of success with the installation of the computer infrastructure and work operations in the different software we use for postal operative and administrative work. NFPE also points out that this conversion of Postal Assistants / Sorting Assistants cadre into System Administrative staff will be more economical and contains sufficient operational advantages in contrast to total outsourcing of our functions or for opting for full scale recruitment from open market. The Postal Services Board is requested to consider these merits and go for appropriate cadre creation paving way for absorption of present System Administrators in the new set up with appropriate higher level of pay package admissible at least on par with that of the data processing assistants in other Central Government Departments at the entry level with a structure of promotions above. We are confident that our respected Member Technology Postal Services Board will appreciate the above facts and will be kind enough to take this matter for the due consideration of the Postal Board and for very positive results. National Federation of Postal Employees extends its hearty thanks to our Member Technology Postal Services Board for immediately consenting to participate in this All India Seminar when requested and for attending and presenting the Main Paper on the theme of Seminar as our Chief Guest. We also thank the entire System Administrators who have come from all over the country responding magnificently to the call of the NFPE. K.Ragavendran Secretary General National Federation of Postal Employees
New Delhi 21.11.2009
ANNEXURE LIST OF ISSUES REQUIRE IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION ON THE WORKING CONDITIONS OF SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATORS
1. Special Allowance: - Notwithstanding with our demand of formation of separate cadre of Systems Administrators in the Department of Posts with separate pay scale till the augmentation, the existing incumbents may be granted special allowance to the extent of 10% Pay plus Grade pay as it is granted to care takers. 2. Issue of uniform duties & responsibilities: - There is no uniformity in the duties and responsibilities. This varies from circle to circle even regions with in the circle. A uniform viable duties & responsibilities may be circulated from the Directorate.
Identify adequate number of systems Administrator’s post in each division/circles. 3. Providing Laptops: - The Systems Administrators find it difficult to download and test the given patches and software with the non availability of systems. One laptop may be provided for smooth facilitation of the process and for mobility purposes in attending computer related works in other stations. 4. Incentive for installation/upgradation: - Many software could be installed only after the closing hours and will end in the midnight. Incentive for installation/upgradation may be fixed and paid. 5. Training Allowance/honorarium: - For imparting training at WCTCS and for MSE, the Systems Administrators may be granted Training Allowance/honorarium. 6. Accidental insurance: - For travelling extensively through two wheelers to attend the technical problems, an accidental insurance coverage may be provided. 7. Grant of Special disability leave: - The S. A. of Delhi West Division met with a road accident after installing software in the night. No special disability leave was granted to the official. Provision of special disability leave on such happening should be ensured. 8. Grant of Excess Duty Allowance: - For keeping beyond 8 hours on any day for any work, they should be granted with ‘Excess Duty Allowance’ or OTA. 9. Provide cash imprest: - To meet out the immediate requirements while attending problems in computers, a separate cash imprest may be provided. 10. Grant of TA & Road Mileage Allowance: - Within urban cities, the road mileage allowance and out stations, TA may be granted for the journey performed for attending computers. 11. Mobile Phone & Recharge coupons: - Mobile phones may be supplied to the system administrators & a minimum of Rs.500/- may be allowed per month for recharging the coupon for the Mobile connection. 12. Providing kit box: - They should be provided with kit bag containing net driver set, CD bag, pen drive, handy vacuum cleaner etc. 13. Providing a seat in office: - They should be provided a seat at server. Now in many places, they have not been provided with separate seating facility. 14. Keeping Panel: - A panel should be maintained at Divisional level and the SAs should not be reverted back as Postal Assistant without any sound reasons. 15. Possession of SQL Password: - The possession of SQL Password may be conferred with the Head of the office after imparting training to overcome the problem of immediate
solution of technical problems as this is now vested with the divisional heads.