BSNL Is Forcing Employees For VRS, Employees On Hunger Strike; Govt Claims 92,000 BSNL Employees Have Retired
We hope that you know the current events taking place with the public sector telecom company, Bharat Sanchar Nagar Limited (BSNL). We have covered stories concerning it frantically. Almost recently, the Union Govt gave a ‘thumbs-up’ or final go for the merger between BSNL and another telecom PSU MTNL, both of which have been recording heavy losses since the past 10 years. The total debt on the two firms is around Rs 40,000 crore.
In an attempt to revive the two companies and make them profitable, the govt approved a Rs 69,000 crore revival package for the two, which included ways through which these two’s assets can be monetized.
Speaking of BSNL, like we said it is going in red mark loss since the last 10 years. an attempt to save about ?7,000 crore annually, the telecom company rolled out its Voluntary Retirement Scheme, 2019 on November 4. As per the latest figures, nearly 80,000 employees have opted for this VRS scheme.
BSNL Alleged of Coercing Employees to Opt for VRS
The ignited condition of BSNL is getting worse with each day passing by. A company that has stood tall and oldest in the telecom sector of India, is now wavering in its base. The government had decided to roll out the VRS 2019 scheme, making it eligible for employees of ages 53.5 years of age to opt for VRS and promising that they shall receive 125% of their salary, pension and gratuity till the age of 60.
The new issue that has now surfaced is that the BSNL employee unions have alleged that the management is coercing the employees to opt for the VRS scheme, contrary to IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s remarks that opting for VRS will be purely voluntary.
The management has been allegedly creating a fear psychosis in the minds of the employees with regards to the reduction of retirement age, long distance transfers, increased workload, etc., thereby compelling them to take up VRS.
According to the employees, they aren’t opposing VRS but they feel that not beneficial for lower level employees and they are being threatened to take VRS, else retirement age will be reduced to 58.
That being said, the BSNL employees have gone on a hunger strike to oppose such coercive actions, starting Monday. The unions, in a notice for hunger strike, have alleged that those opting for VRS will not be able to apply for pension commutation, or be able to claim benefit of the third pay revision.
In addition, as part of the strike, unions are also demanding that BSNL’s 4G service be launched immediately and that the third pay revision be settled without any delay.
The other demands include ensuring immediate pension revision to BSNL employees, timely payment of salaries to employees, immediate payment of wage arrears to contract workers, and settling the issue of 30% superannuation benefit to Directly Recruited employees.
VRS Count Yet
On October 23, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced a VRS scheme where if any officer who is over 53.5 years of age opts for VRS, they will be given 125% remuneration of salary, pension and gratuity till the age of 60.
About 75% of BSNL’s revenue is being spent on wages for its workforce, constituting of 1.75 lakh employees. The company attempts to save Rs 7,000 crore in annual wage bill if 70,000-80,000 employees apply for VRS.
Until now, there have been about 80,000 applications for VRS and is open till December 3. Collectively, over 92,000 employees of MTNL and BSNL have so far opted for this scheme.
The amount of ex-gratia for any eligible employee would equal 35 days salary for each completed year of service and 25 days salary for every year of service left until superannuation. The two firms will also monetize assets worth ?37,500 crore in the next three years.