82% MTNL Employees Retired: Call Centers Not Working, Services Disrupted, Customers Clueless!

82% MTNL Employees Retired In Mumbai: Call Centers Not Working, Services Disrupted, Customers Clueless!
82% MTNL Employees Retired In Mumbai: Call Centers Not Working, Services Disrupted, Customers Clueless!

Over 82 per cent of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) staffers recently opted for Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) with January 31 being their last working day.

A total of 18,000 MTNL employees across Mumbai and Delhi – mostly grade C (clerical) and D (peons) employees and linemen – have opted for VRS after it was announced late last year. 

Read on to know about the chaos that has been caused!

What is the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) ?

VRS can be defined as a method used by companies to reduce surplus staff.

VRS applies to any employee who has completed 10 years of service or is above the age of 40 years. The retired employee should not be hired in any other company or firm belonging to the same management.

VRS packages differ from company to company. The VRS scheme benefits may include providing counselling to employees about their future;managing funds received under the scheme; offering rehabilitation facilities to them,etc.

Retirements Causing Havoc in Mumbai!

Since the past few months, the issues concerning MTNL broadband networks, landlines and mobile phone glitches have remained unsolved.

The Sub Registrar of Assurances office in Chembur where people coming for registration of documents have been having troubles with the internet network issues. An employee said, “We have been facing broadband technical glitches for the past couple of days due to which the portal is not accessible at certain hours, adversely impacting the number of documents being registered on the portal. Our servers are not getting connected since Monday.”

Many such complaints are being filed on a daily basis but no action is being taken on those due to shortage of staff!

Have MTNL Call Centres Put Up Their Shutters?

MTNL Mumbai has around 125 exchanges across the city , Thane. Navi Mumbai, Mira Bhayander, Panvel and Uran. 

At the same time as the mass retirements are happening, call centres in almost all these exchanges apart from the Prabhadevi head office have been non-operational since January 31, 2020.

A MTNL staffer on the condition of anonymity said, “We have been asked to multitask. It is unfair, especially when you have not been paid two months’ salary. We have our home loans, children’s education and other household expenses which have all gone for a toss.” 

The MTNL is recruiting people from its other internal department to work at the Call Centre and other departments too.

Dilip Jadhav, secretary, MTNL Kamgar Sangh, a Shiv Sena-backed union headed by Arvind Sawant said, “The MTNL staff mobile caller tune plays the song ‘Dekho desh badal raha hai’ but unfortunately our situation is only becoming worse with every passing day. To pay off such a large number of employees who opted for the VRS, the government will have to pump in around R2,000 to R2,500 crore. The payment of ex-gratia dues is supposed to be cleared in two installments – March 2020 and June 2020. The retired employees are also eligible for pension.”

He added saying, “The management has not applied their mind to chalk out a plan in advance.”

MTNL Caught in a Trench!

Kamagar Sangh president Sawant said that a major chunk of MTNL revenue goes towards paying employees’ salaries and other fixed outgoings. 

The union representatives have had a series of meetings with the MTNL management where assured that the government was keen on outsourcing the entire operation of MTNL but neither the Ministry of Telecommunications nor the MTNL management have invited any tenders.

MTNL was making profits of Rs 218 crore in 2008 and is struggling to survive now according to Sawant.

Retired Employees to Come Back and Train New Employees Before Retirement!

Sawant said he has requested the retired employees to continue coming to work to avoid public inconvenience caused by the mass retirement.

The union representatives have proposed to the management and Telecom Ministry that even if they outsource MTNL to a private party, the retired MTNL employees should be hired on a contract basis so that the new team can be trained under the experienced people. This will ensure that the loyalty of the MTNL users stays intact.

Sawant added that complaints had been received from Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) about some optic fibre network issue when some retired employees reported to work and resolved the issue.  

Sawant said, “The union will stand by all the MTNL employees and will support them till their dues are cleared by the government as assured.”

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