After a lapse of silence for some time, the BSNL Management seems to focus attention on the issue of VRS once again. It is reported in some papers today quoting some top management officers that VRS is urgently required to save the BSNL and reduce the expenditure on salary, which is about 46% to 48%. It is also stated that the workers lack technical knowledge and are aged, hence they should be retrenched through VRS. Let us see how much sincerity and facts are involved in the above arguments focused in the reports.
1. 46-48% of the revenue/expenditure is to pay the salary, is one argument. The % has increased, not because the number of workers has increased but due to the fact that the revenue of the company has gone down for which the main responsibility lies upon the management. When there were more than 3.5 lakh workers some 6-7 years back, the % of salary to the total revenue/expenditure was less, since the revenue was about Rs. 40,000 crore. The main reason for the % of salary increasing is because the revenue decreased to about Rs. 27,000 crore in the last few years. Management is fully responsible for the same and not the workers.
2. Aging is a natural phenomena and the workforce recruited 20-25 years back will naturally be above 45-50 years. They have worked dedicatory all these years and have increased the wealth of the DOT/BSNL. With regarding to their technical capability, despite the unions continuously demanding, training and retraining were not given to them as required. While top level officers were deputed to ALTTC, BRBRAITT, RTTC etc. for continued and regular refreshment courses, the non-executives were mostly discriminated. And now what right has got the management to state that they are not technically capable? If the BSNL management had got common sense and business culture, it would have trained all the staff to enable them to work effectively. The complete fault lies upon the management.
3. Whether VRS will help any company to save itself? The answer is a clear NO. MTNL has implemented VRS 2-3 times. What is the present situation? The services have become worse due to shortage of staff. What happened to the Nationalized Banks which implemented the VRS ‘effectively’? Due to acute shortage of staff after the VRS, the customers have been suffering and have to wait a long period at the bank counters. And the Bank managements have now been compelled to recruit more than 70,000 employees this year. As can be seen from these experiences VRS will only weaken the BSNL.
4. According to BSNL Management about Rs.18,000 crore is required to implement VRS for retrenching about one lakh workers, which is the target. Where is this huge sum for VRS? BSNL do not have the funds. Government is reluctant to give. It is reported that when the Management approached the Banks for loan, instead of Rs. 18,000 crore, they are willing to loan only Rs.1,000 crore or so. Why the management wants to take loan for VRS and why not for the development and expansion of the services? The approach of the management is completely negative and anti-worker.
5. VRS is a big loss to the workers. If they continue in service, every year they will getting 3% increment, promotion as per the Promotion Policy, there will be a wage revision, and the pension will be almost double if he/she retires after superannuation compared to the Voluntary retirement now.
These are only some of the issues to be considered. Earlier three times the management had tried to implement VRS, but due to the strong opposition from the Unions, especially BSNLEU, the decisions had to be dropped. The present move also will face the same fate, since the proposal is not in the interest of the BSNL, customers, the workers or the country. It is only part of the neo-liberal policy of the government which wants the PSUs to be disinvested and privatised. The slogan raised by the first Prime minister of the country Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that ‘ the Public Sector Units are the Modern temples of India’ is being changed by the present rulers in to that ‘ the PSUs are the new cemeteries of the neo-liberal period’.
All the unions should together fight this attack of VRS and defeat it once again in the interest of the workers, BSNL and the country.