As per latest reports, the NPA or bad loans of SBI has reached a staggering one lakh crore rupees. The India Inc and big business have to apologise to the common people for the fraud they are committing with their hard earned money of the people. SBI and government should take strict action to get the money back from these defaulters.
The press statement of Shri Anupam Shrivastava, CMD BSNL, that Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) is required in BSNL to reduce the loss has brought the issue of VRS/CRS once again as a matter of intense discussion among the workers. A few comrades have asked why we could not accept VRS/CRS. The government and management had decided to impose VRS/CRS thrice in the past, but had to backtrack before the strong opposition from the unions/associations. But since many new entrants are there who were not part of the earlier struggle, it will be relevant to point out why the workers and their unions are against the imposition of VRS/CRS.
The following points are very relevant in this matter.
- Corporatisation is the first step towards privatisation. Since a government department can not be directly made in to a private entity, the telecom services, a government department, was converted in to a corporation, despite strong opposition from the workers and their unions. ‘Business is not the business of the government’ is the policy of both NDA and UPA governments. Telecom Services is one of the biggest business with lakhs of crores of rupees investment and much more profit. Private companies are there in the field, but they want either BSNL and MTNL should be privatised or closed down so that they can reap much more profit. To justify privatisation or closure, BSNL has to be made loss making and inefficient, so that the public will not oppose much. VRS is a tool for the same.
- All decisions taken by the government and management since corporatisation were in this direction. It is thus, that BSNL which was having a profit of Rs. 40,000 crore annually and a profit of Rs. 10,000 – 12,000 crore was made in to a loss making concern reducing its revenue to Rs. 26,000- 27,000 crore and a loss of about Rs.8,000 crore. Towards this down fall, the government took over the balance of about Rs. 40,000 crore with the BSNL citing various reasons, stopped procurement of equipment required for development, did not recruit to compensate the retiring employees etc.
- Disinvestment of shares of the company is one method through which it can be privatised, as was done in the case of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, which was handed over to Tata. More than 46% of shares of MTNL are already sold and 5% more will mean that the government will lose control of the PSU. That is why, BSNL Unions under the leadership of Joint Action Committee/Joint Forum/Forum orgnaised mighty struggles and defeated the decisions of the government for disinvestment. BSNL is one of the few PSUs, whose share has not been sold at all.
- In the same way, VRS/CRS is another way for facilitating privatisation. After privatisation of VSNL, BALCO, ITDC Hotels etc., the new management started retrenching employees in large numbers starting with women workers and SC/ST etc. There was strong opposition against this from the workers. Hence the private lobby is putting pressure on the government that before privatisation itself, the number of workers should be reduced to the minimum so that, the take over will be easy. Instead of permanent workers, these private companies are employing contract workers, daily wagers and apprentices / trainees, thus maximising exploitation. This is another reason why the government wants VRS/CRS in the PSUs.
- There were about 3,50,000 employees at the time of formation of BSNL in 2000. Now it has been reduced to about 2,00,000, a reduction of 1.5 lakh workers. About 10,000 – 15,000 workers are retiring every year with only minimum recruitment. Who will do the work? The plan is to employ contract workers, apprentices etc.
- The claim of the management that almost 50% of the revenue is spent on salary bill is nothing short of confusing the public. For the last 4-5 years, there has been no increase in the total salary bill, which is around Rs. 14,000 crore. The % has increased only due to the reduction in the revenue from Rs. 40,000 crore to Rs. 26,000 -27,000 crore. If the revenue has increased to Rs. 50,000 – 60,000 crore, the % of salary bill be much reduced. Management and the government are fully responsible for the loss.
- Reduction of work force, without new recruitment will adversely affect the services. Wherever VRS has been implemented, as in the case of MTNL, this is the case. The Banks found out that after VRS, their services can not be run and immediately recruited almost double the number of employees who were sent out on VRS.
- Another argument is that the workers who opt for VRS will be benefitted by the compensation given. Of course a few lakhs of rupees extra will be received as per the scheme. But if you compare the pension of the employee who took VRS and the person who retires after superannuation, there will be a big difference with the latter getting much more pension since his salary will be higher. This loss in pension will continue through out the life of the person who takes VRS.
- Women workers are pressurised by their husband, children etc. to take VRS, since a good amount of money will be immediately available. But the fact is that a working women gets more respect in the society, they have a support from their co-workers at any time and they are also self-sufficient. Work for some more years and a better pension will be a great help in their old age.
- VRS in fact is CRS – Compulsory Retirement Scheme. The question of VRS always comes just before another wage revision. After wage revision, the salary will increase, arrears have to be given etc. This will increase the pension also. Hence both the government and the management wants that maximum number of employees are sent out on VRS/CRS so that they need not pay the increased wages and pension. They think that they can confuse, mislead and blackmail the workers to opt for VRS.
- According to the management for implementing VRS in BSNL, about Rs. 18,000 crore is required. From where it is going to come? If that amount is there, it can be utilised for procuring equipment, modernising and giving a better service to the people.
- Another aim of the Government and management is to see that the workforce is reduced to such an extent that the struggle of the workers can be weakened and privatisation can take place easily as in the case of VSNL. The government is irritated that it could not implement either VRS or disinvestment in BSNL due to the presence of mighty unions.
In such a situation, there is no compromise on VRS and it has to be strongly fought and defeated as earlier. The Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations have to immediately condemn the move for VRS and ensure that the nefarious game of the Govt.and management is utterly defeated.
Now that the LDF ministry has been formed in Kerala, one of the first priorities should be to restore and revive the PSUs. These government concerns should be made people oriented and profitable.
We heartily welcome the LDF Government of Kerala with Com.Pinarayi Vijayan as the Chief Minister. The chief Minister and all other 18 ministers took oath today. We hope that as assured in the election manifesto, the government will take strong action against corruption, safeguard women’s safety, implement developmental programmes and ensure justice to all without favour or bias. The people have great hopes in the new government as shown by the massive majority of seats as also the big majority in each seats. We also hope that the ailing PSUs in the state will be supported and revived by the new government.
After lifting the economic embargo on Cuba, the United States President Barak Obama has announced the lifting of arms embargo against Viet-Nam which it started after US was defeated in the Vietnam war. The announcement was made during the visit of US President to Vietnam.
Income Tax Department has stated that it will publish the names of defaulters of Income Tax of more than one crore rupees, thus shaming them before the public. The name of defaulters of 2015-16 will be published shortly. It is a good decision.
It is reported that BSNL Management is thinking again about imposing VRS on the workers. Thrice it was decided earlier,and the united struggle of the workers have defeated the sinister moves.
Already more than one lakh sixty thousand workers have retired since BSNL was formed with only about 30,000 – 40,000 new recruitment. More than one lakh twenty thousand workers are less now. The employees above the age of 50 are those who developed DOT and BSNL and deserves respect and honour and not VRS.
We would advise the management to resist from the move for VRS. Instead procure equipment, provide motivation to the workers, increase the services and and improve customer service. This is the only way to save BSNL and not VRS/CRS.
Shri Ashwani Lohani, CMD Air India is reported to have said that Air India started posting loss and troubles started after the merger of the two PSUs Air India and Indian Airlines. We said the same thing at that time itself. So, what we said has been confirmed by no less a person than the CMD Air India himself. Our objection to the merger of BSNL and MTNL is relevant in this context. Before any merger takes place between BSNL and MTNL, the issues we have focussed should be settled.
The government has now decided to merge the SBI Associate banks with SBI. This is nothing but destroying both SBI and its associate banks. Naturally the bank workers are opposing the same tooth and nail and one day strike has already taken place.
After winning with massive majority, the LDF Ministers in Kerala will be sworn in on 25th May at Thiruvananthapuram. Best Wishes to the new Government with Com.Pinarayi Vijayan as the Chief Minister! Common people have great expectations!