On Friday, Kerala witnessed a mass retirement, with 4,589 employees of BSNL ending their service through the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS 2019) that public sector telecom company had put forth to regulate its financial crisis.
Though almost half the BSNL staff has now ended their service, officials claim that there will not be any glitches in the services offered by the telecom company in the state. There were a total of 9,314 BSNL employees in Kerala.
From group D posts to the deputy general manager, employees of various designations took up voluntary retirement.
“It is important for the public and the country to keep up the public sector company of BSNL running persistently. Therefore we have the responsibility of running the services with utmost care. No services will be affected with the mass retirement,” said Dr K Francis Jacob, Ernakulam business regional circle principal general manager.
BSNL opened the voluntary retirement scheme with an aim to reduce the workforce as, according to reports, about 75% of the public sector company’s revenue is spent on employee wages.
There are about 1.75 lakh employees for BSNL in the country, and about 8,000 people from across the country applied for VRS and ended their service.
In Kerala’s Ernakulam SSA alone, 1027 staff members retired on Friday, leaving only 768 employees in the regional office.
For several months, and for some even for over a year, many have been struggling with irregular distribution of salaries by the company.
“If many of us retire and if the company can sustain well, then so be it, because we are offered a good retirement scheme also. We had been struggling with financial hurdles with the irregular payments. So there are no hard feelings that we retired today,” Roy Mathew, who had been the media relations officer of Ernakulam SSA for the past 37 years, told TNM.
The retirement age of BSNL employees is 60 years, but as per the VRS 2019, those above 50 years could apply for voluntary retirement. As per reports, those above 53.5 years of age would get 125% of their salary after voluntary retirement, which they could have saved during their remaining service period. While those between 50 to 53.5 years, would be getting 80 to 100% of their salaries. For employees over 55 years of age, pension will be computed only when they attain 60 years of age (the current retirement age).
As a result of the mass retirement, it is also expected that the contract staff of BSNL, which outnumbers the permanent employees, will start receiving their pending salaries in the coming months. There are over 8,000 contract staff for the company in Kerala.
In November 2019, a 52-year-old contract employee of BSNL in Malappuram killed himself after remaining unpaid for 10 months. The differently abled man who had got a job with BSNL through a disability quota had been working with the telecom operator as a part time sweeper for the last 30 years. On Thursday, he went to the telephone exchange and swept the place before killing himself.