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Wednesday, Feb 06, 2002

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The Tata `relief' for VSNL staff

Neha Kapoor

MUMBAI, Feb. 5

RELIEVED! That's the sentiment echoed by several employees of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) in reaction to the Tatas acquiring 25 per cent stake in the telecom giant. And this relief stems from attributes such as job security, strong human resource (HR) policies and quick decision-making, which these employees associate with the Tata name.

"We are happy that the Tatas have won the bid instead of any other party because as an organisation they have a strong social mandate and are broad-minded as far as HR issues are concerned," said Mr S.M. Pimpale, President, VSNL Employees' Federation.

Or, as one of the 2,800 employees of the PSU puts it: "Tatas are in favour of employees; they protect jobs. There would be no such sense of job security with others!"

Mr Pimpale said, "The Government has decided to disinvest its stake in a number of PSUs and there is nothing we can do to avoid it. Whatever comes, we will accept, but on certain conditions including maintenance of employee welfare, salaries and job security. These conditions, to be fulfilled by the strategic investor, have already been put forth to the Department of Disinvestment (DoD)."

"So far, we have been assured by the Government that our jobs would be protected for a year after disinvestment. There will be no retrenchment. Thereafter, an agreement will be reached between the Government, strategic investor and employees to decide on the further course of action. As long as they honour their word, there will be problem. We are not like other unions — there is no political interferences here, no industrial disputes. We have a cordial relationship with the management and it will remain so," he added. On the whole, the employees are confident that the strategic investor would take better and faster decisions avoiding the delays that accompany Government decisions.

"Our company is on a sound footing today; our results are good. Employees will continue to maintain their excellent efficiency levels and we are mentally prepared to take on competition too. We are not averse to change. After all, we are involved with the rapidly changing technologies of a new era. All we need from the strategic investor is good motivation and efficient management!" said Mr Pimpale.

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