People's Democracy

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


No. 27

July 08, 2012


Major Gains for BSNL Employees


HERE is a lesson for one and all: the readiness to fight on part of the workers and employees of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), a public sector telecom major, has fetched them significant gains.


One may note that these BSNL workers and employees were to go on an indefinite strike from June 13 onward, but then had to defer the action following an agreement on June 12 between the Forum of BSNL Unions & Associations and the management which agreed to settle the employees’ long pending demand of 78.2 per cent IDA fixation and some other issues.


It was a decision of the government that the wage revision for public sector employees, effective from January 1, 2007, should be done by merging the industrial dearness allowance (IDA) up to 78.2 per cent with the basic pay. However, in the BSNL wage revision, only 68.8 per cent of the IDA was merged with the basic pay. Thus the employees were rightly demanding that this injustice must be undone. The BSNL management did not accept the demand on the plea that the company was running in a loss.


In the meanwhile, on May 25, 2012, the management issued an order, granting all the allowances which the Sixth Central Pay Commission has recommended, to the ITS officers who are on deputation to the BSNL. Though this will create a heavy burden on the company, the decision was taken because on-deputation ITS officers dominate the management.


The matter was discussed several times with the BSNL’s chairman cum managing director (CMD), but no positive action was taken by the management. This was causing irreparable losses to the employees in the matter of salaries, allowances and pensions. 


One also notes that various allowances for BSNL employees were not revised since the Fifth Central Pay Commission in 1996, and not even in the wage settlement and revision that became effective from January 1, 2007. They were assured that these would be reviewed after five years, but were not even when five years were over. On the contrary, the BSNL management even curtailed the medical allowance, LTC and encashment of salary, causing much loss to employees. At the same time, however, the top level officers and non-absorbed ITS officers on deputation, were given increased transport allowances and 14 other allowances. While the transport allowance for top ITS officers was increased to Rs 10,000 or more, the lowest level employees were getting only Rs 300. Discrimination has been rampant.


The superannuation benefits of the newly recruited BSNL employees are yet to be finalised by the management. While child care leave is granted to non-opting ITS officers, it is denied to BSNL employees.


Even after Delhi High Court directed to finalise the relieving of DOT-opted ITS officers who are on deputation to the BSNL, they are yet to be relieved, causing extreme uncertainty about the development and expansion of services. In addition to the anti-PSU policy of the government, as detailed by the BSNL unions several times, another major reason for the loss of revenue and profit to the BSNL is the inefficiency of top level management which consists mainly of non-absorbed ITS officers.


The Forum of BSNL Unions & Associations had made it very clear that its call for a strike was also to press for such demands as would make the BSNL services better for the common people.


Naturally, the Forum of BSNL Unions & Associations served a notice on May 29, 2012, for an indefinite strike to start from June 13, 2012, on the employees’ major demands including 78.2 per cent IDA fixation. However, instead of settling the demands, the BSNL management played a diversionary tactic, kept in abeyance the order revising the ITS officers’ allowances, and asked the forum to call its strike off. But the forum remained determined to go ahead with its strike plan, which eventually forced the management to come forward for a settlement.


In view of the deteriorating financial position of the company, the forum, on its own, agreed to defer the arrears payment till the company’s financial position improves. Based on this, the strike call was deferred.


It is to be noted that the said forum represents the BSNL executives and non-executives, and comprises 18 all-India unions and associations in the BSNL.