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JF Protests Sharing of BSNL Towers with private operators 

Meanwhile, the Communications Minister announced that the BSNL towers would be shared with the private operators for the benefit of the latter. This was strongly opposed by the Joint Forum and a press statement was issued on 17-03-2006.

Press Statement against the proposal of the government for the unbundling of copper cables of BSNL was issued on 31-05-2006 by the Joint Forum.

Meeting with the Secretary DOT on 7th June 2006

A meeting was held with Dr.J.S.Sharma, Secretary DOT, on 7th June 2006. Com.V.A.N.Namboodiri, Convener, JF, Com. Nafe Singh and Com. Swapan Chakraborty also participated. The following issues were discussed:

Navaratna Status to BSNL: The Secretary DOT assured that the Navaratna Status will be conferred to BSNL next year after the fulfillment of obligatory provisions.

Unbundling of local loop: The apprehension of the workers on the formation of a sub-committee headed by the Secretary DOT on the issue was discussed and the Joint Forum strongly opposed the same. Secretary DOT assured that the commitment given earlier continued and no unbundling will take place.

Merger of BSNL and MTNL: Secretary DOT assured that the talk of merger is only speculation of the media and there is no decision for the same.

The Joint Forum of BSNL/MTNL Unions/Associations on 24th June 2006 addressed a letter to the Communications Minister Shri Dayanidhi Maran strongly opposing the proposal of unbundling the last mile copper and seeking a meeting to discuss the same.

The Joint Forum gave a call for Lunch hour Demonstrations at Circles and SSA levels on 27th July 2006 and telegrams to be sent to Prime Minister demanding “ No Disinvestment, No unbundling of local loop of BSNL & MTNL”. It was also decided to have a massive March to Parliament on 3rd August 2006.

Meeting with the Minister of Communications on 12th July 2006.

Com. V.A.N.Namboodiri, Convener Joint Forum along with Com. Basudev Acharya, M.P. & Leader of the CPI(M) in Lok Sabha, met the Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran on 12-07-2006 and expressed strong protest of the workers on the proposals for unbundling. The Minister, while sharing the concerns of the unions expressed that there is no need to unbundle loops of BSNL & MTNL. He said that in USA also, there is no unbundling. He commented that both the PSUs will be finished if unbundled. Coms. Mihir Dasgupta AGS BSNLEU and Animesh Mitra, CS BSNLEU, W.B.Circle also participated in the discussions. Minister assured positively and later told the press that there was no need for unbundling.

Protest against increasing of FDI from 49% to 74 % in Telecom sector – Joint Forum of BSNL/MTNL Unions decides for agitational programmes.

Despite the discussions with the Communications Minister and assurances by DOT and CMD, the government was steadily moving to implement increased FDI in telecom, unbundling of last mile copper etc. as part of its neo-liberal policies. Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) was privatized and the shares of MTNL were being disinvested. The government and the TRAI were taking anti-BSNL/MTNL decisions one after another favouring the private telecom companies. Earlier, the USOF was only for the BSNL/MTNL but it was being extended to the private operators also. A committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Secretary, DOT, with 9 members out of which 4 members were from various private telecom companies and one each from PMO and Planning Commission. The main issue was to unbundle the last mile copper of the telecom PSUs to benefit the private companies.

As such, the meeting of the Joint Forum held on 5th and 10th July 2006 after detailed discussion decided to organize agitational programmes on the following demands:

  1. No Disinvestment of BSNL/MTNL
  2. No unbundling of local loop
  3. No sharing of BSNL/MTNL infrastructure with private operators
  4. No increase in FDI
  5. No reduction in revenue sharing and ADC
  6. Immediate grant of Navaratna status to BSNL
  7. Grant autonomy to BSNL & MTNL
  8. Expand mobile and broadband services
  9. Early and amicable settlement of ITS absorption issue.

The following programmes  were also finalized:

  1. Joint Demonstrations to be organized at Circle/SSA headquarters on 27th July 2006. On the day, telegrams to be sent to the Prime Minister, New Delhi as follows:

“No Disinvestment, Unbundling of Local Loop of BSNL and MTNL”

  1. March to Parliament on 3rd August 2006.
  2. Strike in September 2006, the date which will be decided later.

Accordingly notice was issued to the Secretary, DOT and CMDs of BSNL and MTNL. It was signed by V.A.N.Namboodiri (BSNLEU) & Convener JF, O.P.Gupta (NFTE), K.Vallinayagam (FNTO), V.Narayana (BSNLMS), Prahlad Rai (AIBSNLEA), G.L.Jogi (SNEA), V.Subburaman (TEPU), S.P.Sharma (BSNLWRU), T.Muthukrishnan (AISC/STTEWA), A.D.Patil (AIBCTES), V.K.Tomar (MTNLEA), Vrijesh Upadhyay  (MTNLMS) and A.K.Koushik (TEAM). A detailed letter was sent to the Sub Group on ‘Unbundling of local loop’ strongly opposing and demanding that no unbundling be decided.