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Meeting with Secretary, DOT

The Secretary DOT called for a meeting with the Forum on 1st May 2015, after a few days of the strike.

A meeting of the Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations with the Secretary DOT, Shri Rakesh Garg, was held on 1st May 2015 at the Committee Room of Sanchar Bhawan to discuss about the issues raised in the Two Days Strike of BSNL employees on21-22 April 2015.

In addition to the secretary DOT, Special Secretary (T) Smt. Rita Teotia, Member (Finance) Smt. Annie Moraes, Member (Services) Shri N.K.Yadav, Administrator USOF Smt. Aruna Sunderarajan, Joint Secretary(T) Shri V.Umashankar, Director(PSU) Shri Sanjeev Gupta and other officers were present from DOT. BSNL was represented by CMD Shri Anupam Shrivastava, ED(Finance) Smt. Sujata Ray, Sr.GM(SR) Shri Shamim Akhtar and other officers.

From the Forum side Coms. C.Singh (NFTE) Chariman, V.A.N.Namboodiri, Convener Forum, P.Abhimanyu(BSNLEU), K.Jayaprakash(FNTO), Prahlad Rai(AIBSNLEA), K.Sebastin (SNEA), S.V.S.Subrahmaniam(BTEU), Suresh Kumar(BSNLMS), Rasheed Khan(TEPU), H.P.Singh(BSNLOA), Sunil Gautam (SNATTA), R.P.Sahu (AIGETOA), Rakesh Sethi (AIBSNLOA), Hari Singh(BTU BSNL), Rana Pratap(BEA) and S.Raveendran(SEWA BSNL) participated.

The meeting started at 17.15 hours. Secretary DOT welcomed. All the participants introduced themselves. Convener Forum thanked the Secretary DOT for holding the meeting, though only after the strike. He conveyed May Day Greetings to all the participants. He also mentioned about the statements of the Communications Minister regarding his concerns for the revival of BSNL, which is a good sign. Then the issues connected with the strike issues were discussed, a brief report of which is given below:

  1. 1. Financial Assistance from Government and implementation of assurances given at the time of Corporatisation of BSNL

The Forum leaders pointed out that at the time of Corporatisation, the then Communications Minister Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, had assured full support for the new entity and orders were issued to financially assist BSNL through payment of ADC, Reimbursement of Licence Fee and also liberal subsidy from the USO Fund. Within a few years, all these have been discontinued creating a heavy financial burden of the BSNL resulting in loss for the last five years. The Forum representatives demanded that all these assurances be implemented/ restored.

The amount of Rs. 1,250 crore recommended from the USOF in lieu of ADC for 2012-13 is not yet paid to BSNL. It needs to be paid urgently and such allotments should be made for next years also. BSNL is having a loss of about Rs.10,000 crore yearly for providing rural connections etc. as per the universal service  policy of the government, which should be fully compensated by the Government.

Further, the Forum demanded that refund of charges for the BWA spectrum surrendered by BSNL coming to about Rs. 6,700 crore be paid without any further delay.

BSNL is eligible for refund of Income Tax paid, considering its payment to DOT on various counts. This may come to about Rs. 7,000 crore. This should be refunded.

By making payment of pension contribution on the basis of the maximum of the pay scale, BSNL was compelled to pay about Rs. 2,400 crore extra, which may be refunded. The government order on payment of pension contribution on the actual basic pay should be implemented in the case of BSNL.

The salary of the employees in the TERM CELL, which is part of DOT, is being paid by BSNL, which should be repaid to BSNL.

Further for immediate purchase of urgently required equipments, the DOT may give a soft loan of about Rs.10,000 crore to BSNL.

The Secretary DOT stated that the amount in lieu of ADC from USOF is given as per recommendations of TRAI and DOT will do accordingly in future also. Process for payment of Rs. 1,250 crore allotted has started and will be paid early.

The refund of charges of BWA Spectrum is being considered. The reconciliation for the refund of the Income Tax paid has started and will be finalised soon. The issue of payment of pension contribution on the basis of the actual pay will be taken up with the government. The question of repayment of payment  made to TERM CELL on salary etc. also will be considered. With regard to Soft Loan of Rs. 10,000 crore, Secretary DOT stated that BSNL can take loan from banks.

He further stated that the government has to provide level playing field to all operators to which the Forum leaders pointed out that in fact the private players are being favoured as in the case of giving earlier licence for mobile services.

  1. 2. Revision of Pension of BSNL Retirees and orders for 78.2% IDA Pension fixation for pre-2007 and post 2007 retirees up to June 2013:

The Forum leaders expressed strong resentment at the undue delay in issue of orders on 78.2% IDA Pension fixation for the BSNL retires up to June 2013. Those who retired after June 2013 have already received the same. The pensioners are put to much loss in their pension. Already it had been delayed for years and early orders are required. They also demanded that Pension Revision should be made whenever there is a wage/pay revision for employees. They also demanded that the condition of 60%-40% condition on payment of pension is unjustified and should be done away with.

The Secretary DOT agreed to take up the matter of Pension revision with the government. He assured that the Cabinet Note of 78.2% is being prepared and will be finalised soon. With regard to removal of 60% :40% condition on pension payment, the earlier DOT orders mentioned by the Forum will be  examined.

  1. No Merger of BSNL and MTNL:

The Forum demanded that before any merger decision is taken, the liabilities of MTNL to the extent of Rs. 20,000 crore has to be waived, the disinvested shares to be purchased back and HR issues settled. Secretary DOT told that no decision has been taken and the concerns raised by the Forum will be attended to before any decision is taken.

  1. 4. Filling up of Posts of Directors in BSNL.

To the demand of the Forum for filling up posts of Directors in BSNL, Secretary DOT stated that government is taking action in the matter.

  1. 5. Transfer of all assets to BSNL

Forum demanded that all the assets of BSNL should transferred to it without delay. Further, the representatives stated that many BSNL buildings are being taken by CCA etc arbitrarily. This should be stopped.

DOT stated that the demarcation between the DOP and DOT are still pending in some places. This has to be identified. The transfer of assets to BSNL is being examined.

  1. BSNL Service to be mandatory to Central/State governments and PSUs

The demand of the Forum for making that the BSNL services should be made mandatory for the governments etc. is not accepted. There are a lot of complaints about BSNL services and in this situation, the government will not accept any such proposal. The Forum leaders explained the reasons for the present position of inefficiency and intimated that suggestions for improvement of the same have been made by them.

Other issues like 30% of superannuation benefits to BSNL recruited officials, reduced pay scales etc. were raised, but the Secretary DOT stated that these are in the domain of the BSNL.

The meeting ended at about 19.00 hours, after vote of thanks to the Chair and to all. The Convener, Forum proposed that such meetings should be held in future also to sort out pending issues.

A Saga of Struggles and Defence for survival and revival of BSNL

The BSNL employees were continuously on struggle to defend the interests of the BSNL and its workers from the formation of BSNL itself. The Joint Forum / Joint Action Committee /Forum of BSNL Unions & Associations of Non-Executives and Executives, by whichever name it was called at different times, was in the forefront in leading the struggles. It is a credit to the BSNL Employees that they did not allow the government to implement either disinvestment or VRS, though it had taken decisions for the same.

The unity, dedication and determination of the BSNL workers had stood  the test of time. The task at present is to improve the services to the customers on the one hand and to strengthen and make BSNL financially viable on the other side. The government should be made to support BSNL, the telcom PSU, instead of trying to hand it over to private. Sustained struggles will be required for the same.

SAVE-BSNL, SAVE NATION is the immediate task. BSNL can not be allowed to die or be killed. It has to be restored to its past glory and efficient service to the customers. The BSNL employees under the banner of the Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations will continue to fight for the Revival of BSNL and against the neo-liberal, anti-PSU policies of the government. (Concluded).

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