Even with Diwali around the corner, both Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) employees have not got their salaries for the month of September yet. In fact, MTNL employees have not even got their salaries for the month of August either.
MTNL employees got the July salary only in August. “The officials are stating that they will credit the salaries soon. But, nothing has happened so far. With Diwali approaching, all the employees are in distress. All other PSU employees get a bonus, but that has been stopped for years. The employees suffer due to the mismanagement of the top staff,” said AK Kaushik, general secretary of the Telecom Executive Association of MTNL (Delhi-Mumbai).
In case of BSNL, this is the third consecutive month when salaries have been delayed. The employees got their August salary after it was delayed for almost 20 days. But, the delay for the September salary has been the longest. Earlier this year, the February salary was paid much later in March.
“There is a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, September 23. But the BSNL revival package is not the agenda as the finance ministry had not given any concurrence on the Cabinet note. The revival package includes VRS, allotment of 4G spectrum, monetisation of non-core assets and financial support. The CMD PK Purwar has assured us that the revival package will be discussed in the Cabinet meeting today, but now we have heard it is not on the agenda. We will call for trade union action. How long will we wait,” underscores S Sivakumar, general secretary of BSNL Executive Association.
“All union leaders believe that without a major political decision, the Cabinet is unlikely to approve it,” added Sivakumar.
This comes despite assurances from the BCNL CMD that the department of telecommunications (DoT) was working on a revival plan. DoT plans to fund BSNL VRS packages through a mix of ₹6,365 crore in cash and through bonds for BSNL. It however, needs to be approved by the Telecom Commission, an apex decision-making panel of the DoT, and the Union Cabinet.
BSNL has 1,63,000 employees, while MTNL has 22,000 in its workforce. The administrative cost for the allocation of 4G radio waves to BSNL is pegged at ₹14,000 crore and ₹6,000 crore for MTNL.
The finance ministry had previously opposed financial backing to both the state-driven telcos, and added that any upfront support to BSNL and MTNL would be a huge burden on the budgetary resources of the government.
In August, the PMO had asked the DoT to provide details on steps taken to monetise assets, and directed the department to prepare a list of assets to be leveraged in a time-bound manner. Later, a group of ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah had approved the revival plan proposed by the DoT for both the companies.