NEW DELHI: In a dead-emotional appeal to the chief of cash-strapped Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), nearly 1 lakh casual and contract workers have asked to clear wage arrears immediately to save their families from starvation.
In a letter dated August 28, 2019, the BSNL Casual & Contract Workers Federation (BSNLCCWF) that represents contract workforce pan-India has said, “We request you to allow sufficient fund to the circles for payment of wage arrears so that contract workers could save their families from starvation.”
The workforce including third-party contractual labourers, have not been paid monthly wages and arrears since February – a month for which BSNL, for the first time dragged the salaries of its own 163,000 employees to more than two weeks.
Those employed for casual and contractual jobs have been staging protests and strikes in various telecom circles with the latest being in Kerala region.
The federation has also been opposing Central government and BSNL moves to cut down headcount which, according to its leaders would further make the situation worse since their families were dependent upon work orders from state-run telco and its vendors.
BSNL has 75.5% revenue-to-wage ratio and is expected to post a loss of Rs 14,000 crore in 2019 fiscal.
The fourth-largest telco is finding it hard to maintain salary expenses from its internal accruals to its regular staffers as well as clear outstanding of many of its vendors that include multinationals such as Nokia Networks, ZTE, UTStarcom and Fiberhome as well as domestic companies that include Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL), Paramount Wires & Cables Limited (PWCL) and Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) and micro small-and-medium firms including Clixxo Broadband and Transline Technologies.
Sources say that the situation has started to deteriorate beginning early this year when the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked the telecom carrier to put a hold on capital expenditure.
Former BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava, however, took several initiatives to maximise telco’s revenue even in the absence of 4G services, and over the last couple of years, before his superannuation on June 30, led enterprise business to grow to 30% of the overall income.
Shrivastava, according to insiders, took measures to internally save cost and maintained payouts to ensure seamless network operations but lacked support from the department that has eventually led the situation to go haywire currently.