Four months after the announcement of a revival package for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, the government-owned telecom service provider continues to bleed: 4G spectrum is not alloted, non-availability of fund continues and timely payment of salary every month still remains a pipe dream, employees alleged.
Amid this crisis, thousands of BSNL employees across the country staged a hunger strike on February 24. Led by All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), the employees demanded “expeditious implementation of the Union Cabinet’s Revival Package.” The employees staged demonstrations outside the corporate offices in their respective cities demanding the government to settle the grievances of the employees at the earliest.
In light of the hunger strike of the employees, the chief managing director (CMD) of BSNL called a meeting of the representatives of different employees unions and associations at New Delhi.
However, according to Sebastian K, general secretary of Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association, nothing “concrete has come out of the meeting that was meant to assure the employees.”
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“The meeting was called in afternoon. However, the CMD was not able to explain why sovereign bonds worth Rs. 8,500 crore have not been issued yet, despite the Union Cabinet announcing it in the month of October,” he told NewsClick.
“On the question of salary payments, CMD assured us that the issue will be looked after soon,” he added. The salary payment for the month of January has not been made yet, NewsClick has learnt.
Following the demands of the employees, on October 23, Union Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced a Rs 69,000 crore revival package for the two loss making state-owned companies—BSNL and MTNL, which included strengthening of the finances through sovereign bonds, monetisation of assets and a guarantee to provide 4G spectrum.
However, much to the disappointment of the employees, only the implementation of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) has been carried so far, allege the employees.
As many as 78,569 BSNL employees have been retired so far, according to a statement by AUAB . NewsClick had earlier reported how in the aftermath of one of the biggest mass retirement in history, the public telecom service provider is now planning to outsource work to tackle with the shortage of manpower.
The delay in reviving the state owned company, along with its sister company, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), “is against the spirit of the Union Cabinet”, in approving the revival package, added the statement.
Also read: VRS in BSNL-MTNL, Non-retiring Employees Apprehensive of Employment Terms
“The company has not been able to improve its revenue generation and nothing assuring has so far come from the government’s end in terms of strengthening the financial condition of the company. The vendors are waiting for their dues. The employees, especially the contractual ones, are waiting for their salaries since 10 months,” Sebastian told NewsClick.
A seven-member Group of Ministers was constituted in the month of December last year to fast-track and oversee the implementation of the Rs. 69,000 revival plan, reported Economic Times.