Both BSNL and MTNL are eagerly awaiting a revival package as the threat of another round of salary delay looms.
Even as Group of ministers (GoM) is working on a revival proposal for BSNL/MTNL, any move to reduce the retirement age to 58 is set to face opposition from the employees, who are set to legally challenge every decision in this regard.
According to sources, the GoM, headed by home minister Amit Shah, is deliberating on an option to reduce the retirement age to 58 years from the current 60, which will make BSNL lighter by 30,000 employees. However, the option will be strongly opposed by the staff, who feel that the government is duty-bound to honour the current retirement age.
BSNL currently has around 1.65 lakh employees. Apart from some 30,000 odd people, the remaining came from the department of telecommunications (DoT) in 2000 when the company was formed.
An office bearer of one of the employees’ union of BSNL told the Financial Express that when BSNL was created, the DoT employees who opted to join the operator, were transferred on the condition that rules applicable to central government employees would also be applicable to them. “Employees of the central government retire at 60, so any move to change it for BSNL requires the Parliament’s approval, and if it happens, we will challenge it legally,” said the office bearer. BSNL has four major unions — two for workers and two for officers.
After the GoM meeting on July 16, communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has already met the union leaders of MTNL and BSNL. In fact, a union leader after meeting the minister told FE that they have also submitted some proposals to the government. “There is around `50,000 crore worth of BSNL dues owed by state governments, Centre and other public sector firms. A direction towards paying up those will help BSNL a lot,” said the person. However, FE could not independently verify the claims.
The office bearer also suggested to the minister that there are around 20,000-22,000 towers of the information and broadcasting ministry across the country and some of them can be used to provide BSNL’s telecom services.
Both BSNL and MTNL are eagerly awaiting a revival package as the threat of another round of salary delay looms. The firms have already stopped capex on expansion and other works.