Parliament March on 15-11-2010

In preparation for the three days strike from 1st  December 2010, the Joint Action Committee organised a massive Parliament March on 15th November. Thousands and thousands of BSNL employees participated in the March which started from Bharat Sanchar Bhawan, the corporate office of BSNL. The March was stopped at the Parliament Street by the police, where a huge rally was held with the workers sitting in the street. Com.Basudev Acharya, M.P., who was always in support of the BSNL workers inaugurated the March. Com.V.A.N.Namboodiri, Convener, JAC spoke in detail about the details of the demands of the workers and against the anti-worker decisions of the government and the necessity of making the 3 days strike a complete success. Com.P.Abhimanyu (BSNLEU) G.L.Jogi (SNEA), Prahlad rai (AIBSNLEA), C.Singh (NFTE) and others addressed.

Strike Notice issued.

The Strike included the following demands: 1. Refund of Rs.18,500 crores to BSNL paid to govt towards 3G and BWA Spectrum charges. 2. 78.2% IDA merger for wage revision wef 01-01-2007. 3. Immediate settlement of ITS Group A absorption issue. 4.No disinvestment / IPO of BSNL. 5. No VRS  6. Procurement of adequate mobile equipments. 7. No unbundling of last mile copper cable 8. Implement government’s commitments on financial viability of BSNL given at the time of corporatisation by continuing exemption from Licence Fee, and continuation of ADC, USO Fund. 9. Effective and expeditious implementation of programmes and projects like ERP, NGN etc. Immediate fool proof measures for smooth change over to CDR. 10. Government departments and PSUs should be mandated to to take telecom services from BSNL / MTNL only. 11. Revision of Pension on IDA along with wage revision. Immediate revision of Pension revision of pre – 2007 BSNL retirees.

The Strike Notice was signed by V.A.N.Namboodiri, Convener, JAC, P.Abhimanyu (BSNLEU), C.Singh (NFTE), Suresh Kumar (BSNL MS), N.D.Ram (SEWA BSNL), G.L.Jogi (SNEA), Prahlad Rai (AIBSNLEA), S.C.Gaur (BSNLOA), Anil Kumar (BSNL ATM), K.Vallinayagam (FNTO), V.Subburaman (TEPU), Raj Kishore (WRU), R.K.Ram (BTU BSNL). A circular with details of the demands were circulated.Wall posters were printed and circulated in large numbers. Parliament members raised questions in the Parliament on the various issues mentioned in the strike notice. Press releases were issued by JAC which were prominently focussed in the news papers.

Historic Strike – Magnificient Achievement.

The 3 days strike started on 1st December 2010. BSNL offices and exchanges in the country were closed without any body attending. It was a complete strike. The press gave good publicity. Sister  unions like Confederation, NFPE, AIIEA, BEFI and others expressed solidarity and support. BSNL workers going on strike to defend the company was well received by the public.

BSNL Management as well as the government did not expect such a full strike. The Secretary DOT called the unions for discussion on 2nd December, the second day of the strike. CMD BSNL was present. After the discussion with DOT a meeting was held with the BSNL management. Agreement was reached on the demands at about 21.30 hours on the same day.

The official minutes of the meeting and the agreement are given below: (BSNL No. BSNL/7-15/SR/2010 dated 02-12-2010). Representatives of BSNL Unions / Associations met with Secretary (Telecom), DOT today where CMD BSNL was also present. A follow up meeting with BSNL Management under the chairmanship of CMD, BSNL  Shri Gopal Das was also held at 15.00 hours on 2nd December 2010 in representatives of JAC as well as from the management were also present.

In the course of the meeting, the unions emphasised on the following issues: Procurement of GSM equipment. Benefit of 50% IDA merger in pay fixation.

The Management side clarified that action is under way for procurement of 5.5. million lines to meet the immediate demand  for North and East Zones. In addition, a proposal is also being considered to procure 15 million lines for the next year.

On the issue of benefit of 50% IDA Merger in pay fixation (effectively amounting to 78.2%) CMD BSNL informed that the case has been deliberated in the 130th meeting of the Board held on 25-08-2010 wherein the Board taking in to account all the pros and cons decided to defer the implement of the benefit of 50% IDA merger for pay fixation till the company’s financial position improves considerably and there is  visible signs of recovery. On further insistence by the JAC members, CMD requested the union leaders to provide fresh inputs on this issue which could be examined by the management before submitting the case to BSNL Board for its consideration. On the remaining issues, the position is given in Annexure – 1

With this , CMD BSNL again requested the JAC members to withdraw its ongoing strike, to which the JAC members agreed.

The main point of the agreement were as follows: 1. No disinvestment / IPO for the present. 2. No unbundling of last mile copper. 3. Pension Revision note will be resubmitted to Cabinet for decision immediately. 4. ITS Absorption issue – Cabinet Note circulated to related Ministries. 5. Adequate procurement of mobile equipment will be expedited. 6. 78.2% IDA fixation will again be discussed in BSNL Board. 7. Projects and Programmes of development will be taken up. 8. Commitment of financial viability will be taken up with the government.

The agreement was signed by all the General Secretaries and Convener JAC, who have given the strike notice. Thus the historic strike was called off after the second day. The BSNL workers were happy that the management and DOT was compelled to agree to most of the demands raised by the JAC. A circular was issued by the Convener JAC and General Secretaries congratulating the workers for the excellent strike and assuring that JAC will continue the struggle for implementation of the agreement.  (To be continued).