More than three lakh employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited plan to strike work from February 26 to protest against the company’s plan to bring an IPO and downsize its staff.
Employee unions at the state-owned company on Wednesday presented a charter of demands to the management, which also sought to stop a practice of subsidizing private telecom operators in their rural ventures.
“ We are going to give the (strike) notice to the CMD tomorrow”, said V.A. N Namboodiri, Convener of the joint forum of 13 unions of BSNL employees. “The company has a surplus of Rs 40,000 crore. Last year, it earned a profit of nearly Rs 8,000 crore,” Namboodiri told Hindustan Times. “There is no shortage of funds for further investment," he said, explaining opposition to any IPO from BSNL.
Earlier this month, Telecommunications Minister A Raja told reporters that the company might consider coming out with an initial public affair is that is found to be a suitable option to raise funds for future expansion.
A BSNL official later said the company could raise up to Rs. 40,000 crore from the stock market through the proposed IPO.
The unions are also opposing the company’s plan to offer a Voluntary Retirement Scheme to around 20,000 employees.
The unions also insist that BSNL has seen its market share drop in recent months because it did not lay enough GSM lines. “We need about 20 to 30 lakh GSM lines per month, but only 8 lakh lines are being laid down”, said Namboodri.