BSNL employee unions will be going on a country-wide hunger strike on Monday, demanding that the Cabinet’s revival package be implemented expeditiously as well as for other grievances to be addressed. The strike is being organised by the All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB).
On October 23, the Cabinet approved a Rs 69,000 crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL, which included 4G spectrum, a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), and monetisation of assets.
AUAB said that out of the allotment of 4G spectrum by issuing sovereign guarantee for raising Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 8,500 for BSNL and Rs 6,500 for MTNL) by way of issuing long term bonds, monetisation of assets, and implementation of VRS, only VRS has been implemented so far.
78,569 employees of BSNL took up the VRS offer. VRS was proposed as the telecom PSU was looking to save around Rs 8,800 crore annually in salary bills. The effective date for this VRS was January 31, 2020.
“It is extremely disturbing to note that, even after the lapse of nearly 4 months, 4G spectrum has not been allotted to BSNL. Similarly, the government has not yet issued the Sovereign Guarantee to BSNL, to enable it to raise Rs 8,500 crore, by way of issuing long term bonds. The process of monetisation of BSNL’s assets is also moving at snail’s pace,” AUAB said.
AUAB added that the Adjusted Gross Revenue verdict of the Supreme Court has created uncertainty in the telecom sector, because of which banks are unwilling to lend to BSNL.
“Due to the delay in the allotment of 4G spectrum and also due to the non-availability of funds, it is understood that BSNL’s 4G service is not likely to be launched before the end of 2020,” AUAB’s statement said.
AUAB said that given the circumstances, BSNL is not able to increase the rate at which it generates revenue, and was suffering from a cash crunch.
“The employees are not getting salary on time and the wages of the contract workers have not been paid for the past 10 months. The deductions made from employees’ salaries, on account of GPF, bank loan EMI, society dues, LIC premium, etc., have not been remitted by the BSNL Management, to the concerned organisations. As a result of this, the employees are unable to get GPF and society loans,” AUAB said.
Employee unions had earlier said that the salaries for December 2019 and January 2020 are yet to be disbursed.
Lunch hour demonstrations were already held on February 11, and it is in continuation of this that the hunger strike is being organised.