BSNL Women's Convention Demands End to Gender Discrimination Practices in Telecom Major
CITU leader A R Sindhu inaugurates the 2nd national-level convention of BSNL women’s convention held in Kanniyakumari.
From being a profit-making entity, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), one of the biggest public sector telecom units in the country, has been reduced to a loss-making organisation owing to pro-corporate policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government, as per the national convention of BSNL Working Women Coordination Committee (WWCC) held in Kanniyakumari, Tamil Nadu, on December 10.
The convention accused the Union government of systematically destroying BSNL by denying permission to purchase equipment for better services to compete with private sector organisations.
The convention also accused the BSNL management of going soft on sexual harassment cases and demanded strict implementation of the Supreme Court in constituting the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to pursue strict and timely action against harassment at the workplace.
The lack of facilities for women workers in all the offices, increasing violence against women and children, increasing gender gap and rampant contractualisation in BSNL were some issues flagged by BSNL women employees during the convention.
‘ELIMINATE BLOCKADES AND LAUNCH 4G/5G’
‘Leverage technology to provide affordable and innovative telecom services/products across customer segments’, reads the vision statement of BSNL. But, even as private players rolled out 4G services way back in 2015 and are progressing towards launching 5G, the Union government has delayed permission to BSNL for the launch of 4G services, the employees said.
The BSNL has a long wait for 4G spectrum, despite repeated demands from the employees unions and customers. The recommendation of the spectrum came in 2021 and an announcement was made to the effect that the services will be launched on August 15, 2022. But, the Union government has only granted permission to purchase equipment for rolling out 4G services.
The convention accused the Union government of preventing BSNL from purchasing equipment from global vendors.
“Though the government has started the auction for 5G spectrum, BSNL is nowhere in the picture”, a resolution read.
“The government has announced a couple of packages for revival of BSNL, but these remain only on paper. We urge the government to initiate meaningful steps to revive BSNL”, said Jyothi Lekshmi K N, the newly elected Convenor of BSNL WWCC.
The BSNL women’s convention was inaugurated by A R Sindhu, national secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
‘ENSURE SAFETY AT WORKPLACE’
During the convention, BSNL women employees in Ludhiana narrated how they had been protesting since June 2021 against the alleged harassment by the general manager telecom district (GMTD), but the management had taken no action on their complaints.
The BSNL WWCC accused the management and Punjab circle administration of inaction on repeated complaints made by the women employees and letting the GMTD “go scot free”.
“This cannot be accepted in a country where laws clearly mandate action on offenders. The inaction on the part of the BSNL corporate management is worrying”, Jyothi lekshmi said.
The convention demanded that the BSNL management constitute the ICC at different levels of the organisation, including in circles, as per the Vishakha Committee guidelines promulgated by the Supreme Court to ensure strict and timely action against erring officials.
“The convention took note of the violence against women and children, high foeticides, increasing gender inequality. We passed resolutions urging the state and Union government sto formulate policies and rules to end such cruel practices”, Jyothi Lekshmi added.
Another resolution demanded the implementation of the special medical leave for women employees above 45 years and menstrual leave of three days per month with full wages.
‘EXPEDITE WAGE REVISION TALKS’
Wage revision talks are pending for BSNL employees since January 2017. The government and the Department of Telecom have not initiated any steps to hold wage talks, citing losses incurred by the organisation.
The workers, however, blame the policies of the government for the losses and are demanding immediate talks on wage revision.
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