BSNL employees yet to receive February salary

A Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited employee at work in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

In another indication of stress in the telecom sector, government-owned BSNL did not pay salaries to over 1.76 lakh employees in February. The story is not very different at MTNL, the other telecom PSU, whose employees have been receiving delayed salaries for the past few months, including last month.

J.J. Mathias, president, MTNL Executives’ Association, told The Hindu, “Generally we get our salary credited by the end of the month. December salary was credited on January 5, 2019, January salary was credited on February 21 and we are yet to receive our salaries for February.”

On Wednesday, however, a senior government official said MTNL was given ₹171 crore by the Department of Telecom, and the chairman and managing director was instructed to pay the salaries. “This amount was an internal settlement… it was due to MTNL,” the official said. BSNL employees too would get their salaries before the Holi festival (on March 21). There were some technical issues, otherwise BSNL would also have got funds on Tuesday itself. “For this, ₹850 crore will be generated through internal resources.”

BSNL’s statement

BSNL, in a statement, said the salaries of employees in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and the BSNL Corporate office (excluding senior officers and the Board) had already been disbursed while the salaries for remaining circles would be disbursed before March 21. BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Srivastava did not respond to calls and messages sent by The Hindu.

“We salute the resolve & dedication of our BSNL colleagues across the country. We shall emerge stronger & better. We have the unstinted support of the govt. BSNL’s own cash flow would be utilized for salaries before the festival of colour,” said Mr. Srivastava in a tweet.

No issues: CEO

MTNL CEO Pravin Kumar Purwar told The Hindu, “In any organisation, there can be some issues here and there. We have already ordered to make the payment of salaries on March 14. So there are no issues as far as MTNL is concerned. I am making payment for electricity bills and all statutory payments in time.” The government is mulling a revival package for the two PSUs, including about ₹8,000 crore VRS package for employees. This was also taken up for discussion at the February meeting of the Digital Communications Commission, the highest decision making body for the telecom sector. However, no decision on it was taken.

For BSNL, which has an employee base of over 1.76 lakh, a VRS package of ₹6,365 crore is being considered, while for MTNL, which has about 22,000 employees, the amount is pegged at ₹2,120 crore. The revenue to wage ratio in case of MTNL stands at 90% while in the case of BSNL it is around 60-70%.

As per government estimates, 16,000 employees are expected to retire in the next 5-6 years, while in BSNL, 75,000 employees are expected to retire in the same time.

Additionally, BSNL has sought fresh investments in the form of 4G spectrum. “They have asked for half of it in the form of equity. The total cost of spectrum is ₹14,000 crore. They have asked for ₹7,000 crore to be infused as equity,” a senior DoT official added.

Both the PSUSs carry significant amount of debt. While in case of MTNL, it is about ₹20,000 crore, and for BSNL about ₹15,000 crore, the official said.

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Printable version | Oct 9, 2021 12:49:57 PM |

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