The All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) has called a nation-wide hunger strike today to protest against the delay in the execution of the ₹68,751 crore revival package announced by the central government in October last year.
The government approved this package for state-run loss-making Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). The package, which included the allotment of the 4G spectrum to BSNL and a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for employees, also included a merger of the two bodies. The main objective of the lunch hour demonstration across the country is to ensure the rollout of 4G services and demand immediate payment of salaries for December and January for its employees. The AUAB said that despite the relief package, contract workers have not received their wages for the last ten months.
In a statement, AUAB said, “Out of these, only the VRS has been implemented, through which 78,569 BSNL employees have been sent home. It is extremely disturbing to note that, even after the lapse of nearly 4 months, the 4G spectrum has not been allotted to BSNL.”
AUAB added that a very important part of the revival package is the issuance of sovereign guarantee for raising funds up to ₹15,000 crores, with BSNL’s share being ₹8,500 crores, leaving ₹6,500 for MTNL, by issuing long-term bonds. It also includes monetisation of the body’s assets, which are a much-needed relief for the debt-ridden telecom companies. The employees’ association said that the delay in the allotment of the 4G spectrum to BSNL may be caused by non-availability of funds and hence may not be launched before the end of this year.