People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 43

October 24, 2010

BSNL to Go on Three-Day Strike


MEETING at the FNTO office in New Delhi on October 12, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of BSNL Associations & Unions of Executives & Non-Executives has decided to change the dates for the three-day strike and the March to Parliament which it is to organise in the days to come, to press for the demands agitating the telecom employees in the country. The meeting took place under the chairmanship of FNTO general secretary, K Vallinayagam.


According to a press release issued on October 13 by the JAC convenor V A N Namboodiri, the March to Parliament will take place on November 15 in place of November 11 as was earlier decided. Similarly, the three-day strike will take place from December 1 to 3 while the earlier decided dates were November 24 to 26.


The change in dates of the two action programmes in the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), a public sector telecom major, was necessitated by the US president Barak Obamaís visit to India and his address in the parliament on November 9 and in view of the counting of votes polled in Bihar assembly elections on November 24.


The two programmes are in pursuance of the following demands:

1) Refund of Rs 18,500 crore to the BSNL, paid to the government towards 3G and BWA spectrum charges.

2) 78.2 per cent IDA merger for wage revision with effect from January 1, 2007.

3) Immediate settlement of ITS Group A absorption issue.

4) No disinvestment or initial public offer (IPO) of the BSNL.

5) No voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).

6) Procurement of adequate mobile equipments.

7) No unbundling of last mile copper cable.

8) Implementation of the governmentís commitments on financial viability of the BSNL at the time of its corporatisation by continuing exemption from license fee, and continuation of ADC, USO fund etc.

9) Effective and expeditious implementation of programmes and projects like ERP, NGN etc. Immediate fool proof measures for smooth change over to CDR.

10) Mandate to the government departments and public sector undertakings to take telecom services from the BSNL or MTNL only.

11) Revision of pension on IDA along with wage revision. Immediate revision of IDA pension of the pre-2007 BSNL retirees.


It was decided that individual unions and associations of the JAC will make the necessary arrangements for their members coming to Delhi for participating in the March to Parliament on November 15.


The notice for the proposed three-day strike has already been served on October 15.


In the meantime, the JAC members met the BSNL chairman cum managing director (CMD), Gopal Das, on October 12 and demanded immediate payment of bonus to all executives and non-executives. They also submitted to him a detailed letter on this issue. The CMD told that since the BSNL had posted a loss in the year 2009-10, no bonus could be paid as per the guidelines of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) or the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). He further told that the BSNL board had decided not to pay bonus this year in view of these guidelines. Thereafter, the JAC again met to review the situation. As per its decisions, then, the general secretaries of all the constituent unions and associations of the non-executives and executives sat on a one-day hunger strike at the corporate office on October 15. Next, mass dharnas were staged at the Circle or SSA level on October 19, to demand the payment of bonus to the three lakh employees of the BSNL.


On both these occasions, the JAC noted that while the BSNL management had refused to pay the bonus for 2009-10 on the plea that the company had posted a loss this year, the fact was that the productivity of the employees has increased and the ranking of the company is good now. After the formation of BSNL, the company has been in profit for the last nine years and the loss incurred this year was only due to cancellation of mobile equipment tenders first in 2007 and then in 2010 by the government and management. This is what has created capacity crunch and crippled the corporationís development and growth. The JAC said employees could not be penalised for the mismanagement by the bosses and the wrong policy decisions by the government.


V A N Namboodiri inaugurated the hunger strike in front of the Bharat Sanchar Bhawan in New Delhi. He criticised the anti-worker stand of the management, which has compelled them to the agitation path, and demanded that the management immediately pay bonus to the workers. (INN)