A BSNL employee union on Monday charged the government of not making sincere attempts to resolve problems faced by the PSU to benefit a rival telecom firm, while workers went on a three-day strike to press for their demands. The union levelled charges a day after the telecom department announced that it was engaging with the BSNL management and representatives of the unions and associations to support their reasonable demands. BSNL employees across India have gone on three-day strike starting Monday. They are demanding spectrum allocation to the company for 4G services, approval of land management policy of BSNL, implementation of pay revision committee, adjustment of pension contribution etc.
“Government issued a bogus statement on Sunday that it will engage with BSNL employees and our main demand is wage revision with 15 per cent fitment. We understand financial status of BSNL and we conveyed to DoT that we will accept 5 per cent fitment instead of 15 per cent. Still it did not reflect in their statement,” All India Unions and Associations of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (AUAB) Convenor P Abhimanyu told PTI. While AUAB claimed 98 per cent BSNL employees across India have gone on strike, a BSNL officer said around 60-70 per cent of workforce joined the protest while over 90 per cent staff was present in its corporate headquarters.
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DoT on Sunday said that it will continue to engage with the BSNL management and representatives of the unions and associations of BSNL, to support their reasonable demands, and to guide the organization towards a revival. The issue of allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL is being referred to the sector regulator for views, the DoT said.
At the same time, a comprehensive proposal for revival of BSNL has been prepared, which will be taken up for consideration by competent authorities very soon, the DoT had announced. Abhimanyu said that AUAB gave strike notice on February 1 but the government has not yet invited unions for discussion. He said BSNL employees have been demanding 4G spectrum, land monetisation permission for the last two years but the government has been delaying it.
“BSNL has the lowest debt of Rs 13,000 crore while that of Vodafone Idea is 1.2 lakh crore, Airtel Rs 1.06 lakh crore and industry estimates that debt of Jio will reach Rs 2 lakh crore. They have taken loans from Indian banks also which is public money but DoT is not issuing letter of comfort to raise loan to fund its operations,” he said. AUAB has demanded DoT to allow BSNL to monetise its land asset estimated to be worth Rs 1 lakh crore as it can fetch the company annual revenue of up to Rs 5,000 crore.