Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) employee unions have decided to defer their scheduled hunger strike on October 18. The decision came after the company assured that it is aiming to clear its 1.76 lakh employees’ dues before October 23. BSNL Chairman and Managing Director PK Purwar has said company is aiming to pay employees their previous and current salaries before Diwali. Purwar had said the Rs 850 crore pay-out would be given before Diwali "from our own resources on accruals".
The public sector telecom’s employee unions threatened a hunger strike on October 18 if salaries were delayed over the festive season.
BSNL employees have not been paid their salaries for September, while the Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL) employees have been waiting for their salaries for past two months. The contractual workers of BSNL, however, have not been paid their wages for the past 10 months.
There have been reports that the Finance Ministry wants public sector telecom firm BSNL and MTNL to be shut down.
However, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday had admitted that existence of BSNL is in strategic interest of the nation and the government is looking to resolve issues plaguing it.
"BSNL is in strategic interest of the nation. Whenever there is flood, cyclones, BSNL is the first one to offer services for free. 75 per cent of their revenues goes into salary of employees while others manage it in 5-10 per cent. There are legacy issues which we are looking in to," Prasad said at India Economic Conclave.
A group of ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah has approved a revival plan proposed by the DoT.
The group of ministers had earlier approved a revival package for the loss-making public sector telecom firms in mid-July. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were part of the GoM that approved the plan. However, finance ministry officials later raised over 80 objections to the proposal prepared by the telecom ministry.