Com.K.Mohanan, Circle Secretary, BSNLEU. Kerala Circle retired from service

Com. K.Mohanan, Circle Secretary BSNLEU, Kerala Circle, Working President of Kerala CCLU and a militant leader of the working class, retired from BSNL today, 30th November 2017, on superannuation. He entered the service in 1980 and completed 37 years of excellent service to the people and the workers.
Com.K.Mohanan was elected as the Circle Secretary in 2006 and led a lot of struggles of the BSNL employees and is the nerve centre of co-ordinating all the unions/association in BSNL for struggle. He was victimised several times for trade union activities. Even on the last day of his service, a case was filed in the CAT Ernakulam by some persons, seeking non-sanction of his pension and pensionary benefits, but it was naturally turned down by the CAT.

A good orator and an organiser, he could strengthen the BSNLEU in Kerala and ensured a very good majority in all the membership verifications.

My Best Wishes to Com. Mohanan with the hope that he will continue and expand his trade union activities and public service.

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BSNL is turning the corner – A report by Economic Times

A report in the Economic Times regarding the improvement of BSNL is reproduced below:
How state-run telco BSNL is turning the corner. The company, headed by Anupam Shrivastava, who took over in January 2015, has been given a task by the telecom minister Manoj Sinha who took over from Ravi Shankar Prasad in July 2016 in a ministry reshuffle, to increase market share and bring back the telecom PSU into profits.
State-owned service operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is aggressively trying to turn around telecom business, and in the course of last two years, has brought various strategies to core, apart from consumer mobile business which has seen a heightened competition after the foray of new player Reliance Jio Infocomm in September last year.
The company, headed by Anupam Shrivastava, who took over in January 2015, has been given a task by the telecom minister Manoj Sinha who took over from Ravi Shankar Prasad in July 2016 in a ministry reshuffle, to increase market share and bring back the telecom PSU into profits.
The telco, however, had a two-fold task in hand that includes maintaining the market share from erosion amidst stiff competition and falling tariffs, and turn profitable by devising strategies to make best use of its large-spread telecom infrastructure.

BSNL that offers pan India telephony services except in the lucrative markets of Delhi and Mumbai, had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA) of Rs 672 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 3854 crore in 2015-16.​

By 2018-2019, BSNL will be back again in profits, Shrivastava said, and attributed growing data demand, infrastructure sharing and lesser salary outgo impact and declining debt to equity ratio as the main drivers for a road to profitability.

The state-owned telecom operator has Rs 3,200 crore of debt as of March 31, 2017 which is nearly 10% of its topline. The company, according to the top executive is aggressively aiming to bring it down to zero in next two years with a slew of measures.

Competitive plans

In the wake of increasing competition and consumers’ growing tilt towards data, state-driven telco had not much options but to match its voice and data offerings to that of private sector rivals to safeguard its market share.

With its consumer base largely spread in tier-II or semi-urban areas and rural regions, a tariff to suit cost-sensitive subscriber base has always been one of the top priorities for the governmnent-driven operator. The data rates of all service providers fell sharply making voice calls virtually zero or for a fixed payment as soon as new comer Reliance Jio Infocomm made its way into the Indian telecom landscape.

Anticipating the consumer drift towards new entrant Jio, offering unlimited voice and data via its all IP-based network, BSNL has become the first telco to respond quickly and introduced competitive tariff that include Rs 249 a month scheme. The new plan BB 249 includes unlimited data usage with no FUP (fair usage policy) limit with free voice calls for six months. In June, the telco has also launched ‘BSNL Chaukka 444‘ scheme, a prepaid pack that allows 4GB of data per day with a validity of 90 days.

Earlier, Shrivastava said that the telco was fully prepared to match tariff with what rivals including Jio had to offer, and added that it would continue to provide affordable mobile service plans to its consumer base. The tariff strategy, however, led BSNL to keep its subscriber base intact even at a time when private sector rivals saw a massive customer erosion from the disruptive foray of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio.

“All our plans are made in such a way that customers would not leave our network. Our market share slightly improved last year,” BSNL chairman Shrivastava said.

Network sharing

Telecom network sharing is a new revenue stream for the state-run telco which had in 2015 embarked on a strategy to capitalize on idle infrastructure— be it active or passive— and has put intra-circle roaming (ICR), bandwidth, dark fibre, and mobile tower on the table.

The company said that ‘co-opetition’, which is a collaborative competition, would continue to be its important strategy in order to earn from its unused or underutilized resources.

However, a majority of revenue, according to it, is coming from tower sharing that has contributed close to Rs 1,000 crore in 2016-17.

BSNL’s collaboration strategy, initiated in 2015, generated about Rs 1,500 crore in additional revenue in 2016-17 through active and passive telecom infrastructure sharing with incumbent telecom service operators.

“We will continue to focus on collaborative approach and look to double the revenue to Rs 3,000 crore this year,” BSNL top executive said, adding that private sector players have evinced major interest in tower sharing.

As a part of business revival plan, the telco has also entered into 2G intra circle roaming pacts with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Aircel while Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm partnered BSNL for 2G and 4G services in September 2016.

Asset monetization

The telco has shortlisted surplus land parcels which it believes could be used to garner additional capital by way of leasing them out. The company has already submitted a proposal to monetize eight properties particularly in Delhi and Mumbai that may fetch around Rs 2,000 crore.

However, the entire exercise is being done by KPMG which is telco’s consultant to evaluate 15,000 land parcels covering Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi, among others. The valuation is pegged at Rs 65,000 crore, which is a massive increase from a book value of Rs 975 crore, a decade ago.

The monetization plan itself has a potential to give a huge capital boost to the telecom PSU, however the company aims to use valuation as its net worth in books.

MVNO business

With the government releasing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) guidelines in June 2016, BSNL is looking to tap this opportunity to put its under-utilized network to use specially in semi-urban and rural regions.

The telco has identified MVNO business as one of the key potential areas although the tariffs in the recent past have come down sharply making such as business bit unviable. MVNO business allows incumbent telcos to offer voice minutes and data bandwidth to retailers in bulk to further resell.

“We expect to get Rs 500 crore from the VNO business annually which will increase incrementally,” Shrivastava said, adding that MVNO gives an opportunity and the BSNL Board has already identified it as a good revenue driver.

Enterprise business

The telco is focusing to strengthen its enterprise business and aims it to contribute at least 30% of the overall revenue. BSNL has over 20,000 business customers including large public sector firms such as the Reserve Bank of India and State Bank of India.

With a Wi-Fi initiative, telco plans to tap potential in places of historical, tourism and religious significance. The business model, however, is still in pipeline, BSNL plans to deploy a total of 1 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots by March 2019, a part of it would be operationalized through the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund and revenue sharing venture.

Satellite phone business

The state-driven telecom major has recently forayed into a satellite-based voice and data services in collaboration with Inmarsat, a global satellite network, and plans to offer commercial services from 2018. BSNL has aggressive plans to provide satellite phone calls to private companies and persons, as well as offer in-flight communication (IFC) services via air carriers as well as make Internet and voice calls viable in ships, providing a new revenue stream altogether.

Shrivastava said that the telco has already received due approvals from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), and added that BSNL has become a sole licensee to provide satellite-based services. Inmarsat has already installed its equipment at company’s premises after being tested for law enforcement purposes.

Salary outgo

The state-run telecom has a mammoth outgo of close to 50% of its annual revenue towards meeting salary expenses of its staff. In 2015-16, the telecom company spent nearly Rs 15,000 crore in salary disbursements for an employee base of more than 200,000.

Private sector rivals including market-leader Bharti Airtel and India’s second-largest telco Vodafone India have 20,000 and 13,000 employees respectively, and they spend around 5% of their revenues on salaries. BSNL has now realized salary outgo, as a major force pulling it back although the VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) aimed to bring down headcount, is however, on hold considering a major spend is required to meet the plan.

Telco’s workforce, however, stands at 196,162 as on April 30, 2017. Backed by steady reduction in staff costs, it aims to achieve significant savings in next two years.

“Nearly 10% staff goes off the rolls every year as they achieve retirement. We are not filling up new positions and it could eventually help us in increasing operational profit,” the top executive added.

(courtesy:The Economic Times)

Com.R.K.Kohli passed away

With extreme grief it is intimated that Com.R.K.Kohli, senior leader of NFTE and former Treasurer of E.III Union passed away at his residence in New Delhi today (26 November 2017) morning at about 0930 hours. He was 80 and was ailing for some time. He leaves behind his daughter and family.

Last time when I went to Delhi in connection with the Maha Dharna, along  with Com.R.A.Nair, Treasurer, AIBDPA, went and met him at his home. Though weak he spoke about old days as also enquired about the functioning of AIBDPA and the pensioners issues. He had joined AIBDPA earlier and we planned for some Tours also. When we were returning he also came out to go to a nearby place for some function. When we parted, I never realised that this was our last meeting. In fact,  his daughter and son in law told us that he was getting better.

Our comradeship started in 1960 at the All India Conference and had kept our friendship for more than five decades, despite some organisational  differences.

The Telecom movement has lost a valiant fighter.

My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, friends and comrades!

Human Chain Prgoramme a big success

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The human chain programme organised by the All Unions and Associations in BSNL with the support of sister trade unions was a great success all over the country. The demand included the dropping of formation of tower company and immediate wage revision of the employees w.e.f. 1st January 2017. Tens of thousands of workers participated including the pensioners and the casual and contract workers. Congratulations to all the comrades.
The government should accept the demands failing which the workers will go on a two days strike on 12-13 December 2017.

Corruption, the worst enemy of society and growth.

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Corruption has become part of Indian society. Corruption is rampant at almost all levels. It is mainly due to the large demand and less supply. The population is increasing, but the opportunities are less and shrinking. The sad reality is that the people accept bribery and corruption as part of life. Many people think that the laws and rules can be easily violated and money and muscle power can save them.

Corruption has become cancer of the society. All out, determined, relentless crusade by the people can alone put an end to it.

Wage Revision in CPSEs – Policy cleared by Cabinet

The Cabinet on 21st November cleared the policy for wage revision in Central PSUs, based on the recommendations of the III PRC. No budgetary support would be provided for any wage increase by the government, and the entire financial implication would be borne by the respective CPSEs from their internal resources.

“In those CPSEs for which the government has approved restructuring/ revival plan, the wage revision will be done as per the provisions of the approved restructuring/ revival plan only,” an official release said.

According to the approved policy, CPSE managements would be free to negotiate wage revision for workmen where the periodicity of wage settlement of five years or 10 years has expired generally on December 31, 2016 “keeping in view the affordability and financial sustainability of such wage revision for the CPSEs concerned,” the release added.

Also, CPSE managements need to ensure that negotiated scales of pay do not exceed the existing scales of pay of executives/ officers and non-unionised supervisors of respective CPSEs, it added.

There are about 12.34 lakh employees in 320 CPSEs in the country. Of these, about 2.99 lakh are board-level and below board-level executives and non-unionised supervisors, while the remaining 9.35 lakh employees are in the workmen category.

“Wage revision in respect of unionised workmen is decided by trade unions and managements of CPSEs in terms of guidelines issued by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) for wage negotiations,” an official release said.

The wage policy also makes it clear that CPSEs must ensure that any increase in wages after negotiations do not result in an increase in administered prices of their goods and services, as also any wage revision “shall be subject to the condition that there shall be no increase in labour cost per physical unit of output.” (Courtesy: Business Standard)

Observe 6th December, anniversary of Babri Masjid, as Black Day

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New Delhi, November 22: The Left parties — the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (ML)- Liberation, Revolutionary Socialist Party, All India Forward Bloc and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist)–have issued the following statement:

The wilful demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 remains in the historic calendar of independent India as the Black Sunday. This brazen act, accomplished under the direct gaze of the authorities and law enforcing agencies under a Congress central government and a complicit BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, remains the severest of attacks on the secular democratic foundations of the modern Indian republic. It highlighted the reality that far from consolidating the modern republic there are rabid forces who are determined to destroy its very foundations and to bring in an autocratic, rabidly intolerant, fascistic “Hindu rashtra” which is the RSS’s ideological project.

RSS sponsored Hindutva private armies led by BJP leaders perpetrated the Babri demolition then – and today such private armies, emboldened and patronised by the BJP in power, are acting like a law unto themselves. The gau rakshaks of today are on a rampage, attacking dalits and Muslims over fabricated allegations of cow slaughter. Moral policing squads are prescribing what our youth should wear, what they should eat, or whom they should befriend. Instead of upholding the law of the land and proscribing such private armies, senior BJP leaders, including Ministers in the Central and various State Governments have openly endorsed, patronised, and promoted such private armies and rationalised or even celebrated their violent actions.

Though a quarter of a century has passed since this blot on India’s secular democracy, no action has been taken till now against the organisers and perpetrators of the demolition who have brazenly violated the law of the land and irreversibly damaged India’s secular democratic foundations. Democracy-loving people in India will never forget this injustice and will fight till its perpetrators are brought to justice.

December 6 is also the death anniversary of Dr. Babasheb Ambedkar, the Chairman of the drafting Committee which gave independent India its Constitution. The Left parties will observe this day by mounting a campaign against the intensification of the assaults on dalits across the country and on the secular democratic values of our Constitution by the communal forces. This assault must be resisted and defeated through popular mobilisation and struggles to defend the secular democratic principles, our composite culture and resist every attempt to divide people on communal lines.

The Left parties call upon all their units in the country to observe December 6 as a Black Day and to strengthen in the current context the struggle against communal polarisation being patronised and encouraged by the central as well as many BJP led state governments.The form of protest actions in various states will be decided by our respective state level units.

Homage to Comrade Sukomal Sen – CPI(M)

New Delhi, November 22: The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) expresses its deep grief at the passing away of Comrade Sukomal Sen, Chairman of the Central Control Commission and ex-officio member of the Central Committee. Sukomal Sen died after a long illness. He was aged 83.

Sukomal Sen joined the Party in 1952. He was the organizer and builder of the State Government Employees movement in the country. He served as the General Secretary of the All India State Government Employees Federation from 1982 to 2008. He was formerly Vice President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. He served as a member of the Rajya Sabha for two terms.

Sukomal Sen was a committed Marxist-Leninist and an outstanding trade union leader. He wrote the book, “Working Class of India: History of Emergence and Movement” which has become an authoritative account of the history of the working class movement.

The Polit Bureau pays homage to this dedicated Communist leader and conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife and sons.

Com. Sukomal Sen passed away

With great sorrow and anguish it is reported that Com. Sukomal Sen, senior CPI(M) leader and veteran leader of All India State Government Employees Federation has passed away at about 10.00 AM today, 22nd November. He was ailing for some months  and was hospitalized yesterday morning. He was about 82. It was some months back that I went and met him at his residence in Kolkata. He was bedridden and ailing. Though there was slight improvement, the end came yesterday.

Heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, comrades and friends.