NEW DELHI: The August wage of as many as 1.63 lakh employees of cash-crunched Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is expected to be disbursed next week, while nearly 1 lakh workforce of telco’s partner community remains unpaid for last few months.
BSNL staff unions on Tuesday held countrywide protests, following dragged remuneration.
BSNL, a fourth-largest telco that has been demanding a revival package from the Narendra Modi government, has a highest revenue-to-wage ratio of nearly 75%, and has nearly Rs 10,000 crore worth of annual outgo towards salary expense.
This is the third time in eight months this year when the state-controlled operator has delayed the wage to its employees.
Sources in BSNL, however, told that the salary disbursal would take place next week as the telco’s revenue has been on a constant decline due to the absence of fourth generation or 4G services and slow recovery from enterprise customers.
While, a total of 1,63,902 employees, including 46,597 executive and 1,17,305 non-executives are expected to get their remuneration by next week, BSNL’s partners are apparently worried with many of the smaller firms are on the verge of closure, and their staff remained unpaid for about a quarter now.
Till date, 995 firms have lodged their grievances against BSNL on MSME Samadhaan – a delayed payment monitoring system run by the government, which is the highest against any Central public sector company. So far, only eight cases have been disposed by the department.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari is holding a high-level meeting on Thursday to discuss the sector and review the delayed payment situation across the public sector undertakings (PSU).
The meeting is expected to be attended by state-run companies, bankers and industry associations.
“We have already met the telecom secretary and apprised him about the grim situation which is deteriorating every passing day,” NK Goyal, Chairman at the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (Tema) said.
Most of the BSNL’s vendor-partner companies, according to Goyal, were not able to clear staff salaries as well as honour their liabilities, and that has forced them to shut down their branches or regional offices leading to job losses.
Delhi-based Transline Technologies which has supplied Aadhaar enrolment kits to the telco, Aksh OptiFibre and Clixxo Broadband, in addition to Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL) and Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) as well as multinationals such as Finnish Nokia and Chinese ZTE have already sought intervention from the Narendra Modi government.
Last month, the Prime Minister Office (PMO), despite resistance from the Finance Ministry, has prepared an ‘action plan’ and asked the DoT to bring out a revised note for the Cabinet after incorporating additional information.
The top office has also sought details from the two service providers on assets that can be monetised along with timeframe, and said that the financial implication for staff reduction by way of Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) be vetted by the Department of Expenditure (DoE).
The revival strategy for the sick telecom carriers includes VRS to employees, allocation of 4G airwaves, land and building assets monetisation, and leasing of dark fibre.
However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is yet to send a revised note to the Cabinet seeking much-needed revival of both public sector service providers— BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).
The DoT has sought legal view from the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on the administrative allocation of 4G radio waves to two telcos, following the Supreme Court’s 2012 verdict, discouraging any executive order to distribute natural resource.