P and T Department was one of the institutions which provided a lot of employment to eligible youngsters for decades in Independent India. The number rose to about 10 lakhs during the 1970s.
P and T was bifurcated in to Postal Department and Telecom Department. Continuous improvement in technology reduced staff in Telecom. When corporatised, BSNL had a strength of about 3.5 lakhs. After 20 years and with VRS implemented in 2020 for about 80,000, present staff strength is below 70,000. Casual/Contract workers numbering about one lakh has been reduced to about 35,000 by retrenching them even without paying arrears of wages for more than one year.
The Revival Plan announced by the government is only partially implemented, with 4G service etc. still far away.
How the work can be done with such reduced staff? Outsourcing of many works has started, but that is no solution. Franchisees are interested more in providing private telecom services than that of BSNL.
Government has replied in the parliament that there is no proposal to privatise BSNL. Well and good. But why not allow it to function by providing 4 G Service and recruiting sufficient staff to man the services?
By retrenching 80,000 workers, BSNL has saved about Rs.7,000 crores per year. BSNL can not claim that it is still in loss. Why not pay salary of the hard working employees in time?
BSNL Management should discuss all these with the unions and fulfil the responsibility entrusted upon them. Government should give all support to revive BSNL, instead of their full fledged support to Reliance Jio.