New Delhi: Unions of state-owned telecom firm BSNL will go on a 2-day strike from Tuesday to protest against government for not taking concrete action to revive the loss making company.
"BSNL has been running in losses to meet government's commitment. In year 2000, BSNL had cash of about Rs 40,000 crore but all the money has been taken by government in form of interest and spectrum price. Revival of BSNL is must for interest of consumers," Forum of BSNL Unions and Associations Convener VAN Namboodiri told PTI. The forum claims to represent over 2 lakh employees.
Consumers will be impacted only in case there are major issues like cable cut or where manpower is required, Namboodiri said.
"Technology has improved a lot so there will not be much impact on service except in few cases," he added.
He said the association has requested Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad five times to meet the union on this subject but is yet to get an appointment.
Namboodiri said that if BSNL fails then mobile call rates will go up in the range of Rs 10-16 as in foreign countries and it is because of BSNL mobile tariffs are at lower levels.
DoT Secretary Rakesh Garg has agreed to meet the unions on April 25.
"It is already five months since the Forum issued the strike notice. However, the DoT did not get time all these five months to hold talks with the Forum. Now, the DoT has invited the Forum for talks on 25th April. Despite this invitation, the Forum, in its meeting held today morning, decided to go ahead with the strike call," Namboodiri said.
"Government made promises but did not keep it. It gave BSNL notional loan of Rs 7,500 crore in year 2000 and took back Rs 12,500 crore at interest rate of 14.5 percent. In 2010 spectrum auction, all private operators were given choice to bid in circles of their choice but BSNL was not given any choice," Namboodiri said.
He said the government has not paid it Rs 6,700 crore for the spectrum that company surrendered.
"An amount of Rs 1,250 crore, allotted to BSNL in lieu of access deficit charges for providing loss making connections for 2012-13, is still pending payment. We are losing about Rs 10,000 a year on rural landline connection just to meet government's commitment. If government bears the cost, BSNL will turn profitable," Namboodiri said.
The telecom minister has been saying that BSNL was ruined under previous government but "no sincere work has been done in last 10 months since he has taken over", he said.
The BSNL employees are also not against the merger of MTNL and BSNL but government should resolve liability of about Rs 20,000 that exists on MTNL and it should not be transferred on to BSNL. Also, government should buy back 45 percent stake divested in MTNL before the merger, he added.