Eight employee unions at BSNL have called for a general strike on November 26 mainly to protest against alleged obstacles being created by the government in the launch of 4G service by the state-run telecom firm. BSNL cancelled its 4G tender floated in March following allegations that it was inclined towards foreign vendors and not in line with government’s vision to promote indigenous companies.
The eight unions and associations are BSNL Employees Union, National Federation of Telecom Employees, BSNL Mazdoor Sangh, BSNL Officers Association, National Union of BSNL Workers, Telecom Employees Progressive Union, Sanchar Nigam Associations of Telecom Technical Assistants and BSNL Association of Telecom Mechanics. They have called for strike on November 26 to demand settlement of a 10-point charter of demands and a 7-point charter of demands of central trade unions.
“The revival of BSNL still remains a distant dream, since the government is not taking sincere steps for the same. Not only that, the government is also creating roadblocks in BSNL’s 4G launching,” their joint statement alleged.
The unions have alleged that the Department of Telecom (DoT) reportedly told BSNL to launch its 4G network through a system integrator, while no private telecom service provider in India has rolled out network through a system integrator. “This is because the system integrator model is costly and is susceptible to technical glitches, according to the opinion of experts,” the statement said.
The unions alleged that even five months after the cancellation of the tender, the government is unable to identify and tell as to which indigenous manufacturer is capable of fulfilling the requirements of BSNL in rolling out 4G network. Besides 4G service issue, the unions want the government to settle third wage revision with effect from January 1, 2017, stop retrenching of contract workers and settle pension revision. Other demands include cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for all non-income tax paying families, 10 kg free ration per person per month to all needy, withdrawal of circular on forced premature retirement of government and PSU employees, among others.