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For the first time in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), two unions are recognised for the purpose of representing the non-executive employees numbering about two lakh. This is because the verification has been conducted on the basis of New Recognition Rules adopted for the membership verification this time which was held on 16-04-2013. Accordingly BSNLEU with 48.6% and NFTE with 30.28% support were approved as Representative Unions. The five membership verifications starting from 2002 was held under the Code of Discipline, through which the union which gets the maximum number of support alone was recognised. Thus in the first verification held in 2002, NFTE got 35% and was recognised. In the next four verifications, from the second to the fifth, conducted in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011 BSNLEU got majority and was recognised.
The Negotiating Machinery in BSNL is constituted generally on the same line as the Joint Consultative Machinery (JCM) existing in Central Government Departments, including DOT. But certain variations are there. In DOT, the JCM was at three levels, National, Circle and SSA. It is the same with the Councils in BSNL also. In DOT, the number of Staff Side is 14 and it was divided between NFTE and FNTO at the ratio of 10:4. In BSNL, till now, all the 14 seats ( in 2009 after agitation, the seats were increased to 15, though the demand was for 20 considering the large number of workers, cadres, pan India presence etc) were for the recognised union only. In the New Recognition Rules, the total seats have been reduced to 14 and are allotted at 9:5 on the basis of the votes received by both the unions. 7% is the criteria for getting a seat in the Council. Even a union which is not recognised is eligible for a seat, if it gets 7% or more of the total votes. FNTO which got 6.89% and missed the seat by a fraction approached the court but did not get relief, since their votes were less than 7%. But certain TU facilities are allowed to both FNTO and BTEU BSNL both of which got more than 2%. All other unions got less than 2 % and no facilities except deduction of subscription of members from the salary by the BSNL Management.
In the JCM Departmental Council of DOT, the Chairman was Secretary, DOT and all the Members like Finance, Services, Technology etc. were members of the Official Side. However, in BSNL, the CMD BSNL is not the Chairman. It is allotted to Director (HR). Director (Finance) is a member, but other Directors are not members of the National Council. There are more than 40 circles, including that of non-territorial circles like STR, STP etc. The CGM of the concerned circle is the Chairman of the council. In the SSA levels, GM will be the Chairman. In all these Circle and SSA councils, the number of the staff side members is the same as National Council, ie 14 and allotted at 9:5 ratio between BSNLEU and NFTE.
In the New Recognition Rules, there is a difference compared to earlier rules. Till this time, the Leader and Secretary Staff Side were elected by the Staff Side. That is so in the DOT period also. But without consultation with the Union/s, the Management has brought a change, which is arbitrary. According to the above, the Management has directed that the Secretary will be from BSNLEU and leader from NFTE . Such directions are meaningless. Whether it is the Parliament or any institution, the Leader/ Secretary is being elected by the concerned members. The undemocratic content in the New Recognition Rules should be changed.
Another point which has to be noted is that, in all committees to be formed with Staff Side, the proportionate representation is to be ensured as in the National Council, ie. 9:5 ( 2:1). IN the DOT period it was 10:4. The system is to be continued.
The Staff Side is now stronger with support of about 80% of the staff, compared to about 50% earlier (some times more than50% and sometimes less than 50%). This strength has to be used effectively. The Management also has to understand that the voice of the staff side has to be seriously heard and addressed to.
One weakness or rather draw-back of the management is its mindset that the unions need not be taken in to confidence on the issues of development, planning, implementation etc. Here, the management is completely wrong. By consulting the workers on these crucial issues and considering their suggestions will give good dividend. But unfortunately the experience is that the field officers are not even holding the meetings of the Works Committee, which has been mutually decided and orders issued by the management. There is immediate requirement that this unhealthy mindset should be changed, which will highly benefit the organisation and the services.
Another point has been raised that whether persons from unions other than the recognised unions can be nominated to the Councils. In all the earlier Councils, such nominations have been given and accepted. There need not be any doubt about the same. The recognised unions not only represent their union members, but represent all the workers in the BSNL. There cannot be any doubt on this issue.
The regularity of the meetings is to be ensured. Within a period of 2 years, considering that the council meetings are to be held once in three months, eight meetings can be held. Though at least 7 if not 8 meetings were held in the past, in the recent years the management has been violating this important point by holding three or four meetings only. This should change. Now that the verification period is increased to three years, at least 11 or 10 meetings could be held. Standing Committee meetings should be held every two months as per decision.
There should be seriousness and maximum effort on both sides to clinch the issues and take decisions. Prolonging the issues for years in the name of procedure etc. will demotivate the workers and create friction, which has to be avoided. ot
The first meeting is yet to be held. There has been delay in formation of the councils due to court case. Now that the court case is over, the formation as also holding of meetings should start early. The Staff Side has to meet and finalise the items and submit to the Official side, so that notice for the council meeting can be issued. This is required for the councils at all levels.
Let all of us make conscious effort to make the Councils a success and the staff issues settled.
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