With 93,000 BSNL employees and 80% employees at MTNL opting for VRS scheme provided by the central government; the employee unions of the BSNL have announced to go on hunger strike on February 24 over unpaid salaries to employees and contract workers.
Talking to National Herald, P Abhimanyu, convener of the All India Unions and Associations of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (AUAB) said that the union has decided to go on strike as the government has not paid salaries for the months of December-2019 and January-2020.
“We have not received salaries for last two months and contract workers have not received salaries for last 10 months,” said Abhimanyu, adding, “Our demands also include rolling out 4G services for the BSNL”.
“Modi government promised to raise for ₹8500/- Crores for the BSNL from the market through issuing Sovereign Guarantee Bond, however, this Bond has not been issued to BSNL so far. Hence, it is decided that a letter is to be written to the Hon’ble Minister of Communications, requesting to honour the commitments made by the government,” said the convener of the employee union.
It is worth mentioning here that three months after the Modi government had approved a plan to combine MTNL - which provides services in Mumbai and New Delhi - with BSNL that services the rest of the nation; almost 93,000 employees at BSNL and 80% employees at MTNL have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) on Thursday.
Out of 1,53,000 employees working for BSNL over half — 78,569 employees in all — have opted for retirement. The VRS scheme was announced by the government in October 2019.
Similarly, MTNL, which had an employee strength of over 18,000, nearly 80 per cent — 14,400 employees — have opted for the VRS.
As per media reports, most of the employees of BSNL who have opted for the VRS are said to be in the non-executive category and in the age group of 55-60 years.
According to the officials involved in the process, the move will not only substantially reduce the financial burden the loss-laden companies, will also free up real estate that has a potential for monetization.
According to information, the BSNL is planning to generate Rs 300 crore by selling its land parcels to the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Irrigation Department in places like Thiruvananthapuram and Bhopal.
Also, MTNL is in talks with the Income Tax department to lease its building space in various places. 35 days of salary for each year in service and 25 days of salary for each year left until retirement has been fixed for the employees.
The first instalment of the compensation, as per the government sources, which would count 50 per cent of the total payment, would be paid this financial year while the second instalment will be disbursed in the next financial year starting April. To meet the VRS payment, the government has allotted ₹37,268 crores in the budget for 2020-21.