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BSNL employee union on 3-day strike, starting today

PW Bureau

Training its guns on DoT, the union said that it is working in collusion with Niti Aayog to paralyse the growth of BSNL New Delhi: The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) employees union started a three-day-long all-India strike on Monday, saying that the demands made during the last year’s protests have till date remained unfulfilled, despite assurances from the government. The strike comes a day after the Department of Telecom (DoT) forwarded a proposal for the allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL, one of the most important demands put forward by the employees, to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in an attempt to placate the protesting employees. Sapan Chakraborty, deputy general secretary of All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), the umbrella organisation of all the associations of the officers and unions of workers at BSNL, said that they decided to go ahead with the strike because they will not settle for assurances this time and will relent only after the 4G spectrum has been allocated. He added that out of the total 1,68,000 executives and non-executives, 1,60,000 are on strike.

Union hits out at DoT, Niti Aayog

Training its guns on DoT, the union said that it is working in collusion with Niti Aayog to paralyse the growth of BSNL. Citing the case of 4G spectrum allocation, the union leaders said that the lack of 4G services in BSNL’s kit has dealt a huge blow to the state-run telecom company as other telecom operators have been offering the service for the last two years. A statement released by the union said, “Abnormal delay in the allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL is adversely affecting the financial revival of the company. Niti Aayog and Finance Ministry, which dolled out huge concessions to bail out the private operators are opposing 4G spectrum allotment to BSNL.” The union also alleged that due to lack of clarity on land management policy, money to the tune of Rs Rs 1,000 crore to 5,000 crores is stuck, which could have been used to revive BSNL. “BSNL has huge vacant land at prime locations scattered in 15,000 land parcels. The fair value itself is more than Rs 1 lakh crore and the market value will be more than Rs 4 lakh crores. For the effective monetisation of the vacant land by leasing it out to PSUs, banks etc, BSNL submitted the Land Management Policy in May 2018 for the approval of DoT. A huge amount, Rs 1,000 crore to 5,000 crores is expected from this business itself. However, DoT is not taking any action on this proposal having huge potential.”

Director (Finance) post vacant for five years

While noting that the government had failed in filling up the position of Director (Finance) in the last five years, the union said that the move was aimed at weakening BSNL. The other demands made by the employees union include, payment of pension contribution by BSNL as per the government rule, letters of comfort for BSNL which will allow it to take loans, appointment of directors for all vacant posts in the board, scrapping of the plan to outsource operation and maintenance of its mobile towers, delinking pension revision from pay revision, and implementation of the third pay revision, among others.