A week after BSNL launched its Voluntary Retirement Scheme, over 70,000 employees have opted for the scheme. P K Purwar, Chairman and MD of BSNL told PTI that the response for the VRS scheme has been strong across the board. A Hindu Business Line report pegs the number of employees opting for VRS at 75,000.
On October 23, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced a VRS scheme, where if any officer who is over 53.5 years of age opts for VRS, he will be given 125% remuneration of the salary, pension and gratuity till the age of 60. This was done in a bid to bring down costs and keep the debt-ridden telecom player afloat.
The minister said during the announcement that while human resources cost is just 5% in other telecom companies, it is over 70% in BSNL and MTNL.
However, some employee say that employees are eagerly opting for VRS after months of suffering from not being paid on time and managing expenses. Employees have been receiving delayed salaries for months now and contract employees haven’t received their salaries for over eight months.
BSNL had set an internal target of 77,000 employees opting for the VRS scheme, which is open till December 3. If 70,000-80,000 employees opt for VRS, BSNL will reportedly save about Rs 7,000 crore in wage bill.
At BSNL, nearly one lakh people are eligible for VRS. BSNL has Rs 1.76 lakh employees on its rolls and currently owes them salaries, which costs the company Rs 850 crore every month.
The effective date of voluntary retirement under the scheme is January 31, 2020. And this is applicable to all regular and permanent employees of BSNL including “those on deputation to other organisations or posted outside the corporation on deputation basis, who attended the age of 50 years or above are eligible to seek voluntary retirement under the scheme.”
With thousands of employees opting for the scheme, the telecom department has told BSNL to ensure business continuity and smooth operations, especially at telephone exchanges in rural areas.
As part of the relief measures, the government had also announced that the cabinet has given in-principal nod to merge both companies. Ravi Shankar Prasad said that while the merger will take time, MTNL will be a subsidiary of BSNL till all required approvals and procedures for the merger are completed.
BSNL has a national presence, while MTNL operates in Maharashtra and Delhi.
The government also announced that 4G spectrum will be allocated to BSNL and MTNL at the 2016 price.
The minister also announced that assets worth Rs 38,000 crore will be monetised in four years.
He also emphasized that the government has no plans of closing down or disinvesting BSNL or MTNL.