Sustained Struggles to Save BSNL – 2

Formation of Joint Forum of BSNL – MTNL Associations

BSNL Employees Union got recognition in December 2004. The immediate danger hanging upon the workers was the acceptance of the earlier recognized union to the Voluntary Retirement Scheme proposed by the management in the National Council meeting of JCM held on 17th June 2004. BSNLEU in the first meeting of NC after second verification on 25th January 2005 demanded that the decision for VRS should be dropped which was agreed.
In order to safeguard the interests of the workers of both the telecom PSU and their workforce as also for a better service to the people, it was necessary that a united forum is unavoidable. As General Secretary of the recognized union, I took the initiative to form a coordinating committee representing all the unions of non-executives as well as associations of executives. Discussions were held and the ‘Joint Forum of BSNL/MTNL Unions/Associations was formed. ITS Association was also approached, but they were not interested since they were not absorbed in BSNL/MTNL. Initially all the unions/associations were not part of JF. Probably because I took the initiative, the mantle of Convener of Joint Forum fell upon me.
The first issue to be tackled was the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to reduce the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) to be collected from the private operators and to be paid to BSNL and MTNL. The move was clearly to favour the private telcos and against the telecom PSUs.
March to Communications Minister’s office on 21st December 2004.
A massive March to the office of the Communications Minister was organized participated by more than 2,500 workers. From the Corporate office alone about 250 participated. As usual, the March was blocked near the Parliament Police Station, where a huge rally was held which was addressed by the Joint Forum leaders, Coms. V.A.N.Namboodiri (BSNLEU), G.L.Jogi (SNEA), V.K.Tomar (MTNLEA), K.M.Pillai (MTNLSWU) and others. A Memorandum was presented to the Prime Minister demanding not to reduce the ADC and transfer of TRAI Chairman Shri Pradeep Bajpai, who was openly supporting the private telecom companies. The Joint Forum also met CMD BSNL Sri A.K.Sinha and other Directors and urged to take up the matter with the government, which they agreed.
Agitation against increase of FDI in telecom
Government in the meanwhile decided to increase the FDI in telecom from 49% to 74%. This was against the interest of the nation, telecom PSUs as well as the workers. Hence the Joint Forum organized strong protest demonstrations at the divisional level all over the country. (to be continued)
– V.A.N.Namboodiri –