Over 40,000 Employees Have Opted For BSNL Voluntary Retirement, Says Chairman
Signage for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) is displayed atop the company’s head office in the Churchgate area of Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Over 40,000 Employees Have Opted For BSNL Voluntary Retirement, Says Chairman

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The number of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. employees who have opted for the company's voluntary retirement scheme has exceeded 40,000 within three days of the state-owned corporation announcing it, a top official said on Friday.

The government last month had approved a plum Rs 69,000 crore revival package for BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. that includes merging the two loss-making firms, monetising their assets and offering VRS to employees so that the combined entity turns profitable in two years.

In all, nearly one lakh BSNL employees are eligible for the VRS out of its total staff strength of 1.50 lakh. The scheme that was rolled out on Nov. 5, will be open till Dec. 3.

"So far, 40,000 employees have opted for our VRS plan. Of this 26,000 are from Group C. The response had been good across all cadres," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director PK Purwar told reporters here.

BSNL is looking at savings of about Rs 7,000 crore in wage bill, considering 70,000-80,000 personnel opt for the scheme. According to 'BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2019' all regular and permanent employees of BSNL including those on deputation to other organisations or posted outside BSNL on deputation basis, who attended the age of 50 years or above are eligible to seek voluntary retirement under the scheme.

The amount of ex-gratia for any eligible employee will be equal to 35 days salary for each completed year of service and 25 days salary for every year of service left until superannuation. MTNL too has rolled out a VRS for its employees. The scheme, based on Gujarat Model of VRS, will be open for employees till Dec. 3, 2019.

In a notice issued by MTNL to employees recently, it mentioned that "all regular and permanent employees of 50 years and above as on Jan. 31, 2020" are eligible to opt for the scheme.

The Union Cabinet has approved the plan to combine MTNL - which provides services in Mumbai and New Delhi - with BSNL that services the rest of the nation. The rescue package approved by the government includes infusion of Rs 20,140 crore for purchase of 4G spectrum, Rs 3,674 crore for Goods and Services Tax to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising Rs 15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and government funding Rs 17,160 crore VRS and another Rs 12,768 crore towards retirement liability.

The proceeds of the sovereign bonds issue will be to restructure debt and meet other expenses. The bond will have to be serviced by the PSUs only. The two firms will also monetise assets worth Rs 37,500 crore in the next three years. MTNL has reported losses in nine of the past 10 years and BSNL too has been ringing in loss since 2010. The total debt on both the companies stood at Rs 40,000 crore, of which half of the liability is on MTNL alone.

Also read: Over 22,000 Employees Opt For BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme In Two Days

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