The All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), the umbrella organisation of all the employees’ unions of the state-run telecom operator, has called for a hunger strike on February 24. It will also hold a lunch-hour demonstration on Tuesday seeking the immediate payment of two months’ salaries and the rollout of 4G services.

The agitation is also against the “abnormal delay” in issuing sovereign bonds for Rs 15,000 crore as approved by the Union Cabinet in BSNL’s revival package. Additionally, the AUAB has sought the immediate payment of wage arrears to contract workers and the ending of “whimsical” transfer of employees following the success of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

Initiatives on war-footing

“We haven’t received salaries for December and January, while we are also asking the management to ensure timely payment of salaries every month. Further, initiatives have to be taken on a war-footing to ready BSNL’s network and infrastructure to launch 4G services, with the government spectrum allocation from April 1,” a source privy to the development told BusinessLine .

The lunch-hour demonstration and hunger strike will be conducted across all State and district headquarters, the source added.

Readying for 4G

For its 4G plans, the company has to invite a mega tender for purchasing 50,000 4G base transceiver stations (BTS), ready the existing network to be 4G compatible and convert its present 50,000 4G compatible BTSes to 4G ones, the unions have demanded.

“Things have to move on a faster pace, and the management have to take a lot of initiatives to make BSNL’s network and infrastructure 4G ready by April 1,” another source said.

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AUAB comprises nearly 11 unions of the beleaguered telecom company, including Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA), BSNL Employees’ Union (BSNLEU), National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE), All India Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd Executives’ Association (AIBSNLEA), National Union of BSNL Workers and SC/ST Employees Welfare Association of BSNL (SEWA BSNL) among others.

Earlier on February 7, AUAB had informed Department of Telecommunications’ Secretary Anshu Prakash and BSNL Chairman & Managing Director P.K. Purwar of its agitation plans, they added.

The ailing telecom firm had trimmed nearly half of its workforce by providing VRS to 78,559 personnel as of January 31.