Ailing telco’s employees threaten strike

29 Jul 2013

Employees of struggling state-backed telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) have threatened to go on indefinite strike unless their demands are met, the Economic Times reports. The All India Graduate Engineers and Telecom officers Association (AIGETOA), which consists of around 12,000 engineers and account officers has placed six demands relating to basic pay, retirement benefits, promotion, discrimination in transfer and promotion policies and a formal platform for the association. AIGETOA general secretary RP Sahu was quoted as saying that the association’s members ‘have been facing discrimination and denial of basic rights.’ In response, BSNL chairman RK Upadhyay commented: ‘BSNL management is taking all possible means to foster industrial peace and harmony in the company, which is operating in a hyper competitive environment. We have already appealed them to desist from illegal strike which is harmful to BSNL and at the same will adversely affect the striking employees.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that BSNL and its sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) have been forced to seek a bailout from the government to the tune of up to INR500 billion (USD8.45 billion), as declining revenues have steadily hit their bottom line. Staffing costs are the largest source of expenditure for both telcos, with related expenses accounting for half of BSNL’s income in FY2012-2013 and completely exceeding MTNL’s revenues for the same period.