BSNL staff to go on ‘mass fast' today

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 26, 2011

Against plan to offer VRS to one lakh employees

Executive and non-executive staff of public sector telecom company BSNL will observe a “mass fast” tomorrow, followed by an all-India strike on October 10.

The Joint Action Committee of BSNL officers' associations and unions said this was part of their plan to “save” the company and their jobs.

Anti-psu policy

“We want BSNL to get back all the money that it has lost mainly because of the Government's anti-PSU policy and mismanagement at the top level,” Mr V.A.N Namboodiri, Convenor of the JAC, told Business Line.

The demands include refund of broadband spectrum charges of Rs 8,313 crore, flexibility in selecting circles, refund of licence fee, full compensation for rural services, procurement of equipment, etc.

They are also opposing BSNL's plans to reduce employee strength by offering voluntary retirement to one lakh employees above the age of 45.

Currently, BSNL has 2,76,306 employees. It plans to cut staff strength by almost half with the scheme and aims to save Rs 35,266 crore of wages. The “‘ratio of salary cost to income has risen sharply from 32 per cent in 2008-09 to more than 46 per cent in 2010-11,” the offer said. It also said that the average employee age at 49 years was “very high.”

The voluntary retirees have also been offered BSNL outsourcing work “opportunities,” as individuals or co-operatives, such as maintenance of small exchanges, power plants, EPABX installation, direct selling agents, and rural distribution.

But, employees blame the Government for BSNL's present plight. “There is an acute equipment crunch. We have at least 2,000-5,000 applications for new connections in almost all cities, but broadband modems, cables, etc are not being purchased,” said Mr Namboodiri. He said he met the Telecom Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, recently, but he has not responded.

Rs 10,000-cr loss

Mr Namboodiri said losses on account of rural landlines stood at Rs 10,000 crore annually. “At the time of BSNL's formation, the Government has assured the company that it will be compensated fully for the losses. In 2005-06, it was compensated Rs 8,000 crore, but now this has come down to Rs 2,000 crore,” he added.

According to the company's unaudited results, losses for 2010-11 have been estimated at Rs 5,997 crore.

BNSL services may not be affected tomorrow. However, if the situation persists, services may be affected on October 10.


Published on September 26, 2011

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