The Department of Telecommunication's (DoT) move to absorb Indian Telecom Service (ITS) officers in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has failed. Only three out of 2,000 ITS officers opted for absorption in the two public sector undertakings by October 31, the deadline for giving option.
ITS officers are responsible for management of the two PSUs, which have a combined turnover of about Rs 45,000 crore. They take all important decisions regarding the development and operations of telecom services. BSNL was formed in October 2000 by the corporatisation of the erstwhile service division of the DoT, which now adminisers policy. The ITS officers, however, were allowed by the government to continue in the two PSUs on deemed deputation.
The officers are not in favour of a change because existing service conditions in the government regarding pay, promotion, and pension security are much superior to what is offered to get absorbed in BSNL and MTNL.
After a prolonged dialogue between DoT and ITS officers for three years, a mutually agreed package of terms and conditions for absorption was approved by the Union minister of communications A. Raja. "However, the government completely backtracked later and offered a completely different and inferior package," said S S Sirohi, president, Indian Telecom Service Association (ITSA).
As a result the absorption process has failed and uncertainty among ITS officers continues.
The BSNL board is wondering how to tackle this issue as it has no control over it. The board members know that the company can not run without ITS officers, who are specialised in telecom and form backbone of the company.