Editorial of Tele Pensioner-October-December,2019
It is pertinent to point out that the government had given certain concrete assurances during the formation of BSNL. Foremost of these were that the government will keep BSNL viable and compensate for the losses for providing rural telephony as part of its social obligation. The absorbed employees were assured of better prospects and necessary amendment in Rule 37A of CCS(Pension)Rules,1972 was incorporated to ensure pension from the government to the BSNL absorbed employees. Unfortunately, most of the promises were violated and BSNL had to incur losses due to the anti-PSU policy of the government, at the later stage, the naked pro Reliance Jio stand which is instrumental for the distress of entire telecom industry. We, therefore do not find any justification in denying wage revision to BSNL employees in the name of affordability condition stipulated by 3rd PRC. The former CMD,BSNL, Shri.Anupam Shrivastava had rightly pointed out that 3rd PRC itself mentioned that the affordability conditions are not applicable to those PSUs implementing government projects and as such BSNL is the fittest case for exemption. So the government should think seriously, particularly in the post VRS scenario, to implement wage revision which is a must to motivate the remaining employees. But pension revision is no way related to loss or bad financial position of BSNL as the liability is of the central government alone.
The decision of the Central Executive Committee meeting held at Guwahati to launch a phased programme of agitation against the negative approach of central Government on the genuine issue of pension revision of BSNL absorbed retirees, has evoked great enthusiasm among the pensioners. The CEC after serious discussion and review of the latest developments, particularly, Hon’ble Communications Minister’s statement in the Parliament to the effect that pension revision is possible only after wage revision as pay scales are must for pension revision.
There is nothing to be disappointed or dejected on the statement of the Minister. It is true that 50% of the minimum of the revised pay scale has to be ensured for pension revision. Pay scales are also required for implementing Option 3 , implemented to the central government pensioners as an alternative to Option 1, recommended by the 7th Pay Commission for parity in pension to past pensioners. However, the fact remains that pay scales are very much available for pension revision. 3rd PRC has recommended the pay scales for the executives and for the non-executives BSNL management and the recognized unions through bilateral negotiations have agreed for the pay scales subject to approval of the DoT. The BSNL absorbed retirees have paid the pension contribution at the maximum of their pay scales and as per Rule 37A of CCS(Pension) Rules, 1972, amended from time to time, the entire liability of pension and pensionary benefits to the BSNL absorbed retirees ,lies with the government.
Therefore, AIBDPA rightly demands that Pension Revision of BSNL absorbed retirees be granted from 01-01-2017 with 15% fitment based on the revised pay scales, delinking wage revision. And the CEC felt that another phased programme of agitation is the need of the hour, rather than approaching the court and get the issue frozen. As directed by the CEC, General Secretary wrote to five important pensioners organizations to explore the possibility of a joint struggle. Three organizations responded with limitations and two, AIBSNLPWA and SNREWA did not even reply. So we had no other option than going ahead independently.
Accordingly, a massive signature campaign in the memorandum to be submitted to the Hon’ble Prime Minister will be undertaken at all levels to ensure maximum mobilization of pensioners. Meanwhile, District/Circle leaders will approach all the Members of Parliament to seek their support and help to take up the issue with the government. This important work has to be completed in the month of January, 2020. Next program is Mass Hunger Strike at all CCA offices on 12th February,2020 with large participation. And the culmination is the Parliament March on 12th March, 2020 in which thousands of BSNL and DoT pensioners will participate from all parts of the country.
Struggle is our path, unity and struggle our slogan and victory is our aim. Let us make the programme historic and stupendous. Yes, comrades, we shall march forward, overcome all the hurdles and come out victorious.