BSNL workers have gone on a hunger strike on 25th November, in support of their demands, that include:
- No to roll back of the retirement age of BSNL employees;
- No to compelling the employees to go on VRS by creating panic in respect of reduction of retirement age, transfers, workload etc.;
- Ensure immediate pension revision to BSNL retirees; delink pension revision from pay revision;
- Launch BSNL 4G service immediately and timely payment of salary to all employees.
The workers are also demanding that the DoT and the BSNL Management have to make it clear beyond any doubt that the employees who go on VRS will be made eligible for third pay revision implemented retrospectively.
The hunger strike is being observed by the representatives of various unions including BSNLEU, National Union of BSNL Workers, BSNL Mazdoor Sangh, BSNL Association of Telecom Mechanics and BSNL Officers’ Association.
On 23rd October, the Union Cabinet had announced a revival package for BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) including the merger of these two sister companies along with a VRS. The Rs 70,000 crore package also guarantees providing 4G spectrum for BSNL.
Though it was categorically announced that the VRS scheme would be voluntary, BSNL employees’ unions have pointed out that the Department of Telecommunication and BSNL management are implementing a forced retirement scheme (FRS). They reported that the management pressurises the employees by threatening to reduce retirement age to 58 years, long distance transfers if they continue to stay with BSNL, increased workload etc., following which the workers are compelled to take VRS.
The unions have pointed out that according to the VRS 2019, an employee who goes on VRS can apply for pension commutation only when he/she attains the age of 60. Also, if an employee dies before applying for pension commutation- in between the date of VRS and date of attaining 60 years old- then the family of the employee is not entitled for getting the same. The unions are demanding that necessary amendments should be made to the Commutation of Pension.
They have demanded that the management must hold talks immediately with the unions and associations in respect of transfers, manpower management and about the structure of BSNL; they have declared that arbitrary decisions, bypassing unions and associations in these matters are not acceptable.
The striking workers are demanding the immediate disbursement of the pending wages of the contract workers. The contract workers in BSNL have not been paid their wages for the last ten months and have been protesting against this injustice in several states.