BSNL Employees Union will be completing 16 years of fruitful service to the workers by 22nd March 2017. BSNLEU was formed on 22nd March 2001 at the National Convention of Telecom Employees held at Visakhapatnam in the presence of Com. E.Balanandan, one of the greatest leaders of the working class.
BSNL Employees Union was formed by merging 8 telecom unions, which were earlier part of NFPTE as also a few independent unions, which were functioning in co-ordination with each other and organised many struggles against the neo-liberal policy of the government and against the privatisation / corporatisation of government telecom services under Department of Telecom. These unions were entirely different from the revisionist and reactionary federations which existed in the DOT and supported the liberalisation/ privatisation/ globalisation policy of the government. Comrades Sisir Bhattacharjee and Moni Bose were elected Patrons and Comrades J.N.Misra and V.A.N.Namboodiri as President and General Secretry respectively of the newly formed BSNLEU.
This Convention was treated as the First Conference of BSNLEU. Next All India Conferences were held at Lucknow (2003), Guwahati(2006), Bombay (2008), Thiruvananthapuram (2010), Ludhiana (2012), Kolkata (2014) and the last at Chennai (2017) respectively and in regular time. Comrades Balbir Singh, P.Abhimanyu, Swapan Chakraborty and Gokul Borah were elected as President, General Secretry, Dy. General Secretary and Treasurer respectively in the Chennai Conference.
BSNLEU functions most democratically and with working class ideology. Within three years of its formation, it became the major union and was elected as the single majority union in the Membership Verification held in 2004 with more than 50% of the total votes. In all the subsequent verifications it retained its majority and got elected as the majority union.
BSNLEU took a pivotal role in the first wage agreement, in which all the unions participated since the membership verification was not held at that time and no union was recognised as majority union. In the Second Wage settlement concluded in 2010, BSNLEU got an excellent wage revision for the employees with 30% fitment and other benefits. After continued struggles, four promotions were achieved for all the employees. HMT Watches were got supplied free to all employees and loans from PSU Banks made possible. The largest Group Insurance in the world with major benefits to BSNL employees were got implemented through LIC. Medical Allowance was started. Many such benefits were achieved for the employees at the initiative of BSNLEU.
BSNLEU took initiative to form Joint Action Council of Unions/ Associations of Non-Executives and Executives and organised continuous struggles to save BSNL from being privatised/disinvested as per the declared policy of the government. It is to the credit of BSNLEU and the JAC /Joint Forum/Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations that the government neither could disinvest/privatise BSNL not it could implement VRS/CRS or unbundling of its cables despite several decisions to that effect. BSNLEU is one of the few PSUs, which 100% owned by the government of India. The latest strike was on 15th December 2016 against formation of a separate Tower Company carving out of BSNL.
BSNLEU is part of the CPSTU (Co-Ordination Committee of Public Sector Trade Unions) as also Trade Union International (Public Services) affiliated to WFTU and is actively participating in its activities.
BSNLEU took initiative in forming All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association (AIBDPA) and BSNL Casual Contract Workers Federation (BSNLCCWF) and is actively extending ll support and solidarity to them.
BSNLEU took pivotal role in improving the services as also bringing back BSNL from a loss making entity to its present position, where it has started posting operational profit. It is expected to be profitable by the end of this financial year.
In short, during the 16 years of its existence BSNL Employees Union has made its impact and has been the inspiration of the BSNL employees. That is why it has grown from a small union to be the biggest union in the sector.
There are challenges and challenges before BSNL and its workers. The recommendation of NITI Ayog for closure or transfer to States of BSNL is under the consideration of the government. BSNL – MTNL merger is another. Improving BSNL services and making it profitable is another concern. All these issues have to be dealt with on priority basis.
The time has also come to think about whether the unions of non-executives and associations of executives should continue as such or whether it is possible to have single unions for the executives and non-executives together which will be a mighty force to face the coming challenges. The casual contract workers association can also be part of this great organisation. However, these are issues which have to be thoroughly discussed in detail among all concerned.
Our Heartfelt Greetings and Best Wishes to all members on this 17th Birth Day of BSNL Employees Union! Let us March ahead in the path shown by the great leaders of the P and T Trade union movement like Henry Barton, Babu Tarapada, Dada Ghosh, K.G.Bose and others who sacrificed their entire lives for the betterment of the workers!
UNITY FOR STRUGGLE, STRUGGLE FOR UNITY AND UNITY & STRUGGLE FOR PROGRESS!