It has been brought to our notice that one of our senior pensioner comrade has criticised the position taken up by BSNLEU and certain leaders on what basis the pension of BSNL retirees is to be calculated and what should be our demand? His right to criticise is fully accepted.

This is not the first time that such  a criticism has been raised. It was also there  when the wage negotiation for BSNL employees with effect from 2000 started. Com.O.P.Gupta, Secretary General, NFTE, had said that the salary of the BSNL employees should the same as that of CG employees plus Rs. 1500 or so for all employees equally and the pension for BSNL retirees should be on the basis of the salary of the government employee (pay scale implemented as per the V CPC). He also stated that if IDA payscales are accepted, there will be difficulty in getting government pension, which is on CDA scale. Com. VAN Namboodiri and all other leaders, including Com. Jagan, senior leader of NFTE, pressed that since BSNL is a PSU, IDA scales should be given to employees and pension also should be on the basis of the IDA pay scales to be finalised in the wage negotiation. According to this decision wage agreement was finalised. Instead of Rs. 2,400 at the lowest level, BSNL employees got Rs.4,000 and all cadres above much higher than the V CPC payscale.

Though there was some initial difficulty in getting pension on the IDA pay scale as stated by OPG, after much effort and agitational programme, the government agreed and paid the pension on IDA pay scale. This was much higher than the pension received tothe government employees. Nobody at that time said that this was wrong. Every body got the increased pension and all were happy.

When the VI CPC recommendation was accepted and the payscale was fixed accordingly to the CG Employees, no union or individual demanded that CGE (CDA) payscale or pension should be implemented for BSNL employees/pensioners. After three years of gruelling fight by BSNLEU, then recognised union, a very good wage revision with 30% was implemented, with an IDA pay scale much more than the CDA scale. Executives already got the same as per II PRC. Again there was some difficulty in getting pension on the IDA scale, but after lot of struggles and strikes under the leadership of Forum/Joint Forum of BSNL Unions and Associations, the much beneficial IDA pension was given, which was thousands of rupees more than the equivalent government pensioner. Nobody questioned the settlement as all were part of it and it benefitted the BSNL employee and pensioner.

It was the same case with the 78.2% IDA pension fixation. The government was not prepared stating that BSNL is on loss and only after two days strike on 21-22 April 2015 under the leadership of the Joint Forum/ Forum of Unions and Associations that the government came down and started discussions, which was held on 1st May 2015 between the Secretary DOT and the 18 unions which were part of the Forum of BSNL Unions and Associations. Communication Minister Ravi Shankar was also met. All these paved the way for the settlement of the issue. And the BSNL pensioners  got that benefit also.

Now the question arises. The recommendations of the VII CPC has been implemented for the CG employees w.e.f. 01-01-2016 after 10 years of the last wage revision which was in 2006. Unions/Associations in BSNL have demanded wage revision from 01-01-2017, after 10 years of the last wage revision. The recommendations of the III Pay Revision Committee has been accepted by the government for the executives in BSNL. The BSNL Unions and Associations etc. have demanded for early wage negotiation for the wage revision for non-executives. According to the  stipulation of the “affordability clause” of the III PRC, it will be difficult for the BSNL employees to get wage revision and hence they have demanded that this clause should not be applicable for BSNL due to various reasons, including that BSNL is coming up with the full support and initiative of the workers, that it will be profitable by 2018 as per statement of the CMD BSNL, that BSNL is already having operational profit for the last two years etc. etc. BSNL management has also supported  the demand of the employees for wage revision and conveyed the same to the government. One day strike was organised by the Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations on this issue and further struggles are being chalked out.

If some comrade feels that all these unanimous decisions were wrong and that the salary and pension should be calculated on the basis of the CDA pay scales and pension as per the decisions of the VI CPC and VII CPC, not only the workers but the pensioners are  going to lose heavily. The BSNL workers and pensioners have fully accepted and appreciated the IDA pay scales and the eligible pension accordingly and benefitted.

Or if some comrade feels that the Unions and Association of BSNL are not capable of getting a wage revision, that is another matter. There were some comrades during the II wage negotiation in 2007 also, who wanted the VI CPC benefit to be implemented, stating that the company has started posting loss. Due to the wage settlement, the pensioners also got more than the CDA fixation, especially due to the 30% fixation which was got after serious fight.

The question is whether the BSNL employees and pensioners surrender to the dictates of the government and the III PRC or fight for getting their rights. Bonus which was denied to the employees were got after a big fight, despite BSNL was in loss.

Let us not ridicule and humiliate the BSNL employees and executives for asking wage revision despite the company being in loss. The government will be forced today or tomorrow to accept the same. BSNL employees and Associations have the potential for that fight. Let the pensioners also support them for such a struggle. And the BSNL pensioners will get further benefit out of the same. The unity of the employees and pensioners is most important. Lt us not forget that it was also due to the strong pressure of the employees that Medical Allowance was restored to the BSNL pensioners, even though it was not restored to BSNL employees.

“Unity for Struggle, Struggle for Unity, and Unity and Struggle for Progress” is our slogan.