Total 93,000 applied for VRS in BSNL, MTNL: Govt

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Total 93,000 employees of ailing state-run telecom firms-BSNL and MTNL- have applied for VRS scheme, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

A total of 79,000 employees of BSNL and 14,000 out of 20,000 employees of MTNL have applied for the VRS scheme which the government has come out with to reduce the employee cost in these PSUs. The VRS package announced as part of the government's plan to reduce the employees' cost in the company, he said.

Prasad said the employee cost in BSNL was 75.06 per cent while that in MTNL was 87.15 per cent, against 2.95 per cent for Airtel, 5.59 per cent for Vodafone and 4.27 per cent for Jio.

On whether the government will pay dues of contractual employees in BSNL/MTNL, the minister said, "as far as contract employees are concerned, they are employees of the contractor and the obligation to pay salaries is that of the contractor."

In view of the strained financial condition, BSNL decided to implement various austerity measures which include reducing expenditure for different outsourcing works including house-keeping, security and certain repair and maintenance work.

On revising the age for VRS, Prasad said, "though the government has taken the decision, the option is open".

Separately, Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre in a written reply to another question said that there is no plan before the government to reduce the retirement age of employees of state-owned telecom firms from existing 60 years to 50 years.

On delay in payment of salary of both firms, the Minister said BSNL paid its salary up to the month of September 2019 while MTNL paid up to the month of August 2019.

To another question, Dhotre also said the government at present has no proposal under consideration to sell or privatise BSNL and MTNL.

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