Hyderabad: Union leaders have expre-ssed concern over the future of the state-owned telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) as lakhs of employees await their February salaries.
A spokesperson for the department of telecom said that the lapse was due to “technical issues” and confirmed that employees will be paid by Holi (March 20), but union members alleged that the issue was a sign of the tough times looming ahead for the ailing firm. This is reportedly the first time that the company has defaulted on salaries in its 18-year history, as its current debt is believed to stand at Rs 13,000 cr.
Speaking on the issue Mr Thomas John K, president of National Union of BSNL Workers (FNTO), said, “BSNL keeps the pricing low and affordable for the common man without which, prices could soar. It also has the lowest debt among other network service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone and Jio. But it needs fresh funding to stay afloat, which the DoT is not approving.”
He added, “Our fear is that the government is creating a monopoly in the market by supporting companies like Reliance Jio and killing us as competition. But a lack of price wars could spell disaster for the common man.”
Last month a large number of employees from All Unions and Associations of BSNL staged a protest demanding the allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL, as per the proposals submitted by the BSNL management.
National Federation of Telecom Employees-BSNL, AP Circle Secretary Mr Chandra Sekhararao said that the allotment of 4G spectrum would greatly help the ailing organisation. He said, “BSNL was making profits till 2009 but after that the losses occurred due to the policies of the consecutive Central governments. We have been asking for 4G spectrum to be able to compete with other companies and improve revenues, but it has been denied to us. Our other suggestion was to convert huge government-owned telecom spaces in cities into commercial ventures for extra income.”
Mr John K who retired as an engineer after 38 years at BSNL, added, “There is this fear now that people will lose their jobs but the greater fear is that BSNL’s collapse will hurt the common man.” A senior DoT official said, “There were some technical issues, otherwise BSNL would have got funds yesterday (March 12) itself.”...