The employee unions of state-run telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be going on a hunger strike on February 24 over unpaid salaries to employees and contract workers.
As per employee unions, salaries for December 2019 and January 2020 have not been paid and contract workers have not been paid wages for the past 10 months.
This comes days after BSNL completed its Voluntary Retirement Scheme that saw over 78,000 employees opting for VRS as the telecom PSU looks to save around Rs 8,800 crore annually in salary bills. The effective date of VRS was January 31, 2020.
However, employees say that despite repeated requests, the management of BSNL has not paid salaries and has not even deducted GPF contribution, bank loan EMI, society dues, LIC premium, union / association subscription, etc., to the respective organisations from the salaries.
“This is causing extreme hardship to the employees. The Management should immediately remit all the dues to the concerned organisations,” employee unions said in a statement.
The government, in October, announced that 4G spectrum will be allocated to BSNL and MTNL at the 2016 price. This was part of the revival package announced for the PSU.
Employee unions claim that there has been no action taken for the roll-out of BSNL’s 4G service.
“One of the components of the Revival Package, as decided by the Union Cabinet, is granting Sovereign Guarantee Bond for Rs.8500/- Crores to BSNL as financial assistance. However, this Sovereign Guarantee 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, for the revival of BSNL,” they said.
Apart from payment of salaries and launch of 4G, other demands of employee unions include clearing wages of contract workers, withdrawal of notices issued to some leaders and not issuing transfer orders to employees due to the implementation of VRS.
There were demonstrations held on Tuesday as well across offices of BSNL.
The employee associations participating in the agitations include BSNL Employee Union, National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE), Sanchar Nigam Executives' Association, All India BSNL Employee Association, National Union of BSNL Workers, Sanchar Nigam Association of Telecom Technical Assistants, Bharatiya Telecom Employees Union, Telecommunication Employees Progressive Union, BSNL Officer's Association, among others.
BSNL last paid out salaries of employees towards the end of December when it released November salaries to 1.63 lakh employees and reportedly paid Rs 1,700 crore to ecosystem players including contractors and vendors.
BSNL chairman Pravin Kumar Purwar told ET at the time that things such as salary disbursement will take two to three months to stabilise.