Slash BSNL staff strength: Panel

Pitroda committee suggests divestment of 30 per cent stake for this purpose

Slash BSNL staff strength: Panel

The committee, which was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in its report to the government said that “the BSNL needs to improve organisational performance and employees’ productivity substantially. Retire or transfer around one lakh employees through the best possible processes such as voluntary retirement scheme”.

The Centre should divest 30 per cent stake in BSNL to an Indian strategic investor or through an Initial Public Offering. The larger part of the income from the equity sale should be utilised for employee VRS, expansion and operation, the report says. However, implementing the committee report will be a daunting task as employees have been opposing the IPO as well as cut in staff strength. The government has been holding talks with the Unions in a bid to convince them to agree for the IPO to infuse fresh fund as well as over haul the management. The efforts have failed to yield results.

The report suggested outsourcing of the company’s several activities to private telecom companies including managing call centre and IT network to reduce the staff strength.
Other recommendations are overhaul of the management by appointing a chairman from the private sector, setting up of four independent business units for fixed line, mobile service, enterprise and new business, forming separate subsidiaries for tower business as well as managing company properties.

The panel was set up by the Prime Minister to explore the ways to revive BSNL, whose profit has fallen to just Rs 575 crore in 2008-09 from over Rs 10,000 crore six years ago. The company is facing stiff competition from private operators and suffering from huge staff cost.

The committee has telecom secretary PJ Thomas and HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh as its members.

Opposing the committee’s recommendations, the BSNL Employees Union said that as there is a huge shortage of staff, retrenching of any more employees should not be allowed. As already over one lakh employees have retired in the past 10 years, further retrenchment would be suicidal to the company, Union General Secretary V A N Namboodiri told Deccan Herald. At present, BSNL has a staff strength of over three lakh.

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