The contract workers of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) have started a three-day hunger strike throughout the state of Tamil Nadu from today, July 2, demanding the immediate disbursal of their salary which has been pending for six months. The employees are sitting on hunger strike in front of all the BSNL Bhavans in all the telecom districts.
The contract workers affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Telecom Contract Workers’ Union (TNTCWU) and the BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) will sit on a hunger strike till July 4. The other demands include fixing of minimum salary as per the instruction of the district administration.
Starting the hunger strike in the BSNL Bhavan in Nagercoil, former Member of Parliament of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) A V Bellarmin told NewsClick, “The contract workers of BSNL have not been paid their salaries for the past six months. The salary paid to the contract workers is way too low encouraging the exploitation of the workers by the contractors. The non-payment of salary for such a long period is a cruel joke on the livelihoods of the workers. BSNL, as the principal employer, is also responsible for this undue delay. We demand that the salary be paid without further delay.”
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An office bearer of the BSNL Nagercoil telecom circle told, “The minimum salary for the contract workers was fixed at Rs. 490 by the district collector during April 2018. This is yet to be implemented. Also, a contractor named Vasantham has not paid the salary to the workers even after the amount has been sanctioned by the BSNL. The same organisation has not paid the Employees’ State Insurance and Provident Fund for the workers from October 2018 which is a clear violation of the laws.”
The contract workers also alleged that the details of the contract workers are not being maintained by the district telecom circles even after necessary instructions to maintain the same has been insisted on by the state administration of the BSNL.
The BSNL Casual and Contract Workers’ Federation (CCWF) has called for a nationwide protest in front of the Chief General Manager’s office on July 17 with the same demands. The Union government’s apathetic attitude towards the largest Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) has left it gasping for funds to pay salaries for the regular and contract workers. The policies of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government is tactically against the PSUs, so that private giants can enter into the customer base effectively resulting in windfall profits for the corporate.
Also read: BSNL Employees Protest in Amritsar Demanding Pending Salary