About one lakh jobs in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) are at risk, as the government has failed to clear the dues worth Rs 20,000 crore. If the government does not clear the dues to the financially ailing state telecom service provider, about one lakh employees of domestic companies would lose their jobs.
Some vendors of BSNL and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) are mulling moving insolvency pleas against the state-run firms for non-payment of dues, estimated to be around Rs 20,000 crore, a senior industry body executive said on Monday.
The pending payments are against the supply of telecom gear and other goods to BSNL and MTNL as well as Rs 45,000-crore rural broadband project Bharat Net, said San deep Aggarwal, Telecom Committee Chairman, PHD Chamber of Commerce, said a PTI report.
The pending dues affected the entire ecosystem, which has already been witnessing a crisis. BSNL usually outsources certain works through various companies and then the companies are paid.
"The total pending payment of BSNL and MTNL vendors is around Rs 20,000 crore. Banks have started putting pressure on vendors to clear their dues. All vendors will jointly stage a protest on November 19. If payments are not made within 10 days thereafter, they will approach National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for liquidation of BSNL and MTNL," Aggarwal said.
Read More: RSS Mouthpiece Pitches for ‘Withering Away’ of BSNL
The Telecom Export Promotion Council on October 31, 2019, wrote to the administrator of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to pay long-pending dues of around Rs 20,000 crore to various vendors. USOF manages the BharatNet project.
These vendors include Sterlite Technologies (with dues worth Rs 500 crore), Tejas Networks (Rs 314 crore), HFCL (Rs 219 crore), Paramount Wires and Cables (Rs 168 crore), VNL (Rs 150 crore), etc., according to the letter. In a letter to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Paramount said its bankers are pressuring the company to clear their dues at the earliest.
“Our plant has remained mostly shut, since we do not have funds to buy raw materials. Creditors are refusing to supply even at high prices. Our staff and worker salaries have not been paid for the last two months. This has never happened in our history,” Paramount said.
Last month, the Cabinet approved a Rs 69,000-crore revival plan for BSNL and MTNL, but dues of many vendors are still unpaid. Aggarwal said that around 1 lakh direct jobs will be affected due to non-payment of dues by the government-run firms.
“With Rs 20,000 crore payment due, around 1 crore man-hours salary has not been paid,” he said.
Meanwhile, on other hand, the employees of BSNL have not been paid their salary for the months of October yet. The salary for the month of September was paid only on October 23—just before the Diwali. The unions and associations of BSNL, however, apprehend that the management is having a sense of complacence that the September salary was paid only two weeks back and that there is no urgency to disburse the salary for October.
Read More: BSNL-MTNL Revival Plan: Enough to Stop Bleeding?
“We would like to remind the management that the date of disbursement of salary in our company is the last working day of the month and that this should not be altered on any account,” BSNL Employees’ Union said in a letter to the CMD of BSNL.
These contractual workers are usually employed through various contractors. However, they get wages and other service benefits from BSNL itself. When the contractors have sought money from BSNL in the past five months, the management has said that they have no money owing to the financial crisis.