Approximately 5,000 employees from state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on Friday staged a massive demonstration in New Delhi to oppose Centre’s push to hand over voluntary retirement to over 50,000 workers at the telecom giant.
“We will fight this tooth-and-nail till we are able to defeat this proposal of the Modi government. While the Modi government is killing the state-owned PSUs BSNL and MTNL, it has been handing out huge bailout packages to private companies,” said Comrade P Abhimanyu, the national convenor of All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), at the protest as he addressed the serving BSNL employees on a loudspeaker at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, amid heavy security.
“We will defeat the Modi sarkaar. There will be a new government at Centre after the elections,” he said.
The BSNL employees at the protest lauded the stand taken by the Congress Party, mentioning that Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had on Thursday castigated the government for “murdering” the telecom PSUs.” “The government must answer the questions posed by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Why is it promoting three private players in the telecom sector at the expense of state-run BSNL,” asked Abhimanyu.
“This government won’t last long. We will make sure that it doesn’t come back to power,” said Abhimanyu, amid cheers by audience members.
The rally came in the wake of government’s decision to handle Voluntary Retirement Scheme to over 54,000 employees of BSNL, most of them over the age of 50 and being life-long workers at the state-owned telecom company.
Around 31 per cent, or 54,541 employees, of the 1.74 lakh employees at BSNL will be laid off as part of Modi government's Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), in turn part of Centre's proposal to revive the loss-making PSU.
Congress' spokesperson Randeep Surejewala had on Thursday come down heavily on the Modi government, stating the the VRS would "destroy the future of 54,000 families."
The government has further proposed to reduce the retirement age at BSNL and MTNL from the current 60 years to 58 years.
"If the Modi Govt snatches the jobs of the BSNL/MTNL employees and murders these companies by giving them slow poison, then people of India shall not forgive Modiji for this crime!" Surejewala had said.