BSNL Employees Union to protest on Thursday against increased work hours, late salaries

The union also slammed the decision to reduce the number of days of paid outdoor treatment from 23 to 15.
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The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited or BSNL’s Employee Union (BSNLEU) will be organising a lunch demonstration on Thursday, which will be done by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Employees are protesting for four primary demands.

Their first demand is that the decision to increase working hours from 8 to 12 be rolled back, stating that it “vehemently” opposed this move by certain state governments. In a press release, BSNLEU stated that ever since coming to power, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making efforts to amend the country’s labour laws in favour of the employers. 

“One such move was to amend the Factories Act, to increase the working hours beyond 8 hours a day. However, the amendment of the Labour Laws is being stoutly resisted by the Central Trade Unions, which have gone on nationwide General Strikes. It is in this backdrop, that with the green signal from the Centre, certain state governments, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, etc., have increased the working hours from 8 hours a day to 12 hours a day,” the stated, adding that this increase is in violation of decisions by the International Labour Organisation. 

“The ILO has decided that the working hours should be 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week. Government of India has ratified this decision of the ILO and has all along been following it,” they added.  

The union’s second demand is that the employee salaries should be paid on time, which the union stated the management of BSNL was not. “Even the salary for the month of April is being disbursed only today [Thursday],” they added.

The employee union’s third demand is that contract workers issues must be addressed, and says that they have not been paid in 10 months. The union also claims that 10 contract workers have died by suicide. It added that a letter on Sept 30, 2019, stated that contract workers were being retrenched and that their working hours were being reduced. Stating that the finance ministry issued directions that contract workers must not be deprived of wages during the period of the lockdown, but this was not being implemented by BSNL’s management.

“In addition to this, the BSNL Management is outsourcing all the works, which have so far been done by the contract workers. As a result of this, again large scale retrenchment of the contract workers is taking place. BSNLEU demands that the wage arrears of the contract workers should be paid by the Management immediately and it should give up all measures that are aimed at retrenching the contract workers,” it added. 

In its final demand, the union slammed the company’s decision to curtail employees’ medical facilities. The union cites a letter issued on May 8 by the management, which reportedly states that the company will only pay for upto 15 days of outdoor treatment, for an earlier ceiling of 23 days. The union that this be rolled back, and the ceiling of 23 days be restored. 

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