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The agitational programmes started as per the decision of the AIBDPA Kolkata All India Conference has inspired the entire BSNL Pensioners and there have been massive participation in all the programmes organised. The signature campaign, Dharna at SSA level, the Hunger Strike at Circle level etc were participated by large number of pensioners as well as regular employees since they are also the beneficiaries of the same.

Meeting the Members of the Parliament and submitting the Memorandum to the Prime Minister as also requesting them to take up the issue both in Parliament and outside is going on. Already about 200 M.P.s including Central Ministers have been completed. The response from them is good. Two Ministers have taken up the matter with the  Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. Many M.P.s have written to the Communications Minister. One M.P. has raised the matter in Parliament in zero hour. All these letters etc. are based on the concrete demands raised by AIBDPA for Pension Revision with 15% as recommended by the III PRC for the pay revision of executives in BSNL and as demanded by the unions of non-executives.

The Pension Revision w.e.f. 01-01-2007 was achieved through sustained struggles by the recognised union BSNLEU and AIBDPA. It was not easy. It took about three years of continuous struggle to achieve the same. Compared to the central govt pensioners, the pension of BSNL retirees are better and more, since the same is granted as per the Pay Revision Committee on IDA scale instead of on CDA scale as per the Central Pay Commission. CG employees are paid on CDA scale, while BSNL employees are paid on IDA scale, which is better.

Though there was no agreement in 2000 when BSNL was formed on Pension Revision, a precedent has been made after continuous struggle that Pension Revision will be made and that too according to the PRC route. That is the only precedent and convention on which pension revision is made for BSNL retirees.

The pension revision is being delayed and denied by DOT on the plea that pension revision can be made only after pay revision is given to the BSNL employees w.e.f. 01-01-2017. The pay revision is delayed on the plea that BSNL is in loss and it is not in an affordable condition to pay as required by PRC.

As well understood, the loss of BSNL is mainly because it is implementing govt policy of universal connection and on such PSUs which implement the govt policy, the affordability condition can not be imposed arbitrarily. The BSNL management had already recommended to the govt, pay revision for executives with 15% as per III PRC, and in the negotiations, the employees recognised unions have also demanded the same.

Now after the Revival Plan with VRS, 4G Spectrum, sovereign guarantee, loans, monetisation etc., the BSNL management and the DOT are stating that BSNL will be made profitable. Of course, one can not fully depend upon these statements, but the All Unions & Associations of BSNL ( AUAB ) is making all out efforts to ensure that the govt/BSNL take proper steps to revive BSNL.

During the AUAB struggle, it was agreed by the government that the BSNL pension revision will be delinked from pay  revision, since BSNL is paying the pay while the govt is paying the pension. Pension contribution at the maximum of the payscales has been paid by BSNL to govt. It was also decided that the pension will be fully paid by the govt discarding the 60: 40 ratio. These all have been achieved through struggles.

Under these circumstances, the struggle for pension revision has to be strengthened. Some of the pensioners’ unions are proposing to approach court in this matter, but as they themselves have stated earlier, approaching court is the last resort and that last resort has not come. Further, as these unions have earlier stated, it may take twenty or more years to get a judgment in cases like these, and the pensioners can not wait like that.

Whatever BSNL Pensioners have received so far was through continued struggles. Removal of 60:40 condition, 78.2% IDA pension fitment, Pension Revision form 01-01-2007 – all these were achieved through the struggles by Joint Forum/ AUAB, AIBDPA  and others. Approaching the court is the last last resort and further the govt may continue to go on appeals to the higher courts at each and every stage, as we have seen in many cases.

As far as AIBDPA is concerned, it is committed to ensure Pension Revision to BSNL pensioners and it will continue its agitational programme. Although the Parliament March on 12th March has been deferred due to Covid-19, massive dharnas were conduced SSA wise on the same date. The Parliament March also will be organised after the situation becomes normal.

Our earnest request to all the pensioners’ associations in BSNL is to continue the struggle and achieve the results as has been our experience in the past.