Nashik: About two lakh employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have begun from today a two-day nationwide strike accusing the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi of taking decisions so that one of India's largest telecommunications companies incurs losses and declared a sick unit.
Routine work at BSNL offices across India are disrupted today as the employees decided to stay home to protest the government apathy towards what they called deliberate attempts by the government to lay ground for its sellout.
A BSNL staffer talking to ummid.com said BSNL is continuously incurring losses and is not able to purchase necessary equipment for regular maintenance work because of lack of funds.
“All this is being done just to declare BSNL a sick unit and pave way for its sellout”, the BSNL staffer said.
“Simultaneously”, he added, “The government is planning to establish another entity to look after BSNL Mobile and one more to provide telecom and internet services in rural India.”
“After establishment of such entities, BSNL will be left with just landline. One does not need a research work to find how difficult it will be for BSNL to survive without mobile phone and internet under its control”, he added.
“We have decided to protest and stay home on December 12 and 13 to bring our concern to the notice of the government and warn that it should not play with the livelihood of two lakh employees by such dirty tactics”, the staffer, who did not wish to be named, said.
The BSNL employees had in the month of July this year protested for one week during lunch hours to apprise the government of their concern.
“We realise the fact that not going to work means trouble to subscribers. However, we were forced to call the two –day strike on Tuesday and Wednesday because the government did not take any note of our on-duty protest held for the entire week in the month of July”, another staffer of BSNL Nashik office said.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is India's oldest communication service provider and had a customer base of 93.29 million as of June 2015. It has footprints throughout India, except for Mumbai and New Delhi, where telecommunications are managed by Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL).
It was incorporated on September 15, 2000 and assumed the business of providing telecom services and network management from the erstwhile Central Government Departments of Telecom Services (DTS) and Telecom Operations (DTO) as of October 01. 2000. The largest provider of fixed telephony and broadband services with more than 60% market share, BSNL is the fifth largest mobile telephony provider in India.
However, in recent years, the company's revenues and market share have plummeted resulting in heavy losses as a result of intense competition in the privatizing Indian telecommunications sector. The employees’ union however does not believe this and says losses are because of government policies.
“BSNL became a loss making entity not because of the employees but because of the anti-BSNL policies and measures adopted by the government. BSNL was not allowed to procure equipments for its mobile network expansion from 2006 to 2012,” BSNL Employee Union convenor P Abhimanyu said in a statement issued ahead of July strike.
Abhimanyu also alleged that tenders floated by BSNL to procure mobile equipments were cancelled by the government to benefit the private telecom companies.
“As a result of this blockade created by the government in the procurement of equipments, BSNL was not able to take advantage of the exponential growth witnessed in the mobile segment, during this period,” he said.
Among other demands the BSNL employees are trying to highlight by protesting today and tomorrow is a decision on their salary hike as per the recommendation of the third Pay Revision Committee which was approved by the Cabinet on July 19.