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Sustained United Struggle Is The Need Of The Hour To Save BSNL

“BSNL officers, employees and casual contract workers are now facing an unprecedented attack on their jobs, wages and livelihood. For the first time in its 18 years of existence the payment of salary for BSNL officers and employees were delayed by two weeks. Contract workers have not been paid wages for more than three months.

The workers under the leadership of All Unions Associations of BSNL (AUAB) as also BSNL Casual and Contract Workers Federation are on sustained struggle including strike to make the govt to settle their demands urgently. In the Charter of Demands, in addition to wage revision and pension revision, demands for the allotment of 4G spectrum, pensionary benefits of BSNL recruitees, DoT approval for taking loan, suggestions for improvement of BSNL services – all are there. Massive protest demonstrations, rallies, one Two Days Strike, another Three Days Strike – all have been successfully organised.

Some comrades feel that the leaders are responsible for the present complicated situation. But it is not a fact. These comrades are completely mistaken. Unfortunately, many of them are not members of any union and have not participated in the struggle. Had they been union members and participants of these mighty struggles, they would have been fully convinced about the struggles undertaken and appreciated the leadership.

Who are then responsible for the present unenviable situation.It is neither the workforce nor their unions. It is the anti-worker, anti-PSU policy of the ruling parties and governments headed by them. Public Sector Units were formed immediately after Independence to start infrastructure as also to develop industries in the various core sectors, which the Indian corporates were unable to do.The PSUs employed lakhs of workers, strengthened the finance of the country and gave valuable service to the people.

The situation completely changed by the end 1980s.The neo-liberal policy initiated in the 1900s were clearly intended to weaken the PSUs and allow corporates to take over. It was at this stage that telecommunication was opened up for private companies, BSNL and MTNL were denied mobile services etc.

BSNL was formed with the intention of closing or privatising it. The govt took many steps in this direction, but the united struggle under Forum, Joint Forum, AUAB etc defeated each of them. They could not implement one lakh VRS, disinvestment, unbundling of copper cables etc due to continued struggle by workers. The govt is favouring private companies and grant them all concessions. BSNL is continuously discriminated.

BSNL was having Rs.40,000 crore safely in PSU banks, Rs. 8000 to 12000 crore annual profit with good dividend being paid to govt. Despite the delay in getting mobile services, it was reaching to the first position when the tender for 4 .5 crore mobile was cancelled by govt. One after another development took place, the govt discriminating BSNL and favouring private companies. The latest open favouritism to Reliance Jio, going to the extent of Prime Minister Modi’s photo used in Jio’s advertisement. Never the PM stood in support for BSNL.

All the telecom sector PSUs, ITI, Hindustan Cables, VSNL etc were either privatised, closed or made sick and the workers lost their jobs. 46% shares have been sold in MTNL. The workers in BSNL stood together, fought together and defeated the foul game of the govt. till now.

All the telecom companies are in huge loss due to the predatory charges started by Reliance Jio, with the overt and covert support of govt. The loss to the private companies like Idea, Vodafone, Airtel etc. are more than one lakh crore. The loss to Reliance Jio will be more than that, though it claim profit by manipulating accounts. BSNL in loss about Rs.13,000 crore which is less than others. Private companies are allowed to take huge loans from banks despite their loss, but BSNL is not allowed to take loan from banks for development as also for paying salary. Govt and DOT is creating such a situation to frighten the employees and compel them to take VRS and leave to trim the organisation for taking over by the private companies.

Wage revision and pension revision is not implemented on the plea that the company is in loss. Though govt was compelled to delink wage and pension revision, the pension revision as implemented in 2007 as per II PRC, is not implemented as per III PRC from 2017.( some confusion was created by some comrades demanding pension revision on CDA scales as per VII CPC which will have disastrous results). The NCCPA, AIBDPA, AUAB and most of the workers and pensioners organisations took the correct stand and organised strikes, Parliament March,Fast etc, the latest which was on 25th March participated by thousands.

Elections are announced and it has been decided by these organisations to meet all the present MPs, MP candidates, Ministers, leaders of political parties etc demanding implementation of assurances given at the time of formation of BSNL by financially and otherwise supporting BSNL, implementing wage revision and pension revision without delay, pensionary benefits of new recruits, regularisation of casual labour, allotment of 4G Spectrum etc etc.The struggle will continue till success.

In the meantime, some comrades, who are non-members and non-participants in the struggle started a whispering campaign against the unions and their leaders, who have fought and won much for the workers and pensioners. We request these comrades to become members of unions and be participants in the long and hard battle to save BSNL, its workers, labours and pensioners.

Our struggle will continue. We are sure that we will succeed. No struggle has been in vain, though the result may not be there immediately. History has proved it.

Struggle for unity, unity for struggle & unity and struggle for progress!”

VAN Namboodri, is the Founder General Secretary of BSNL Employees Union, the recognised union in BSNL.

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