No Diwali for BSNL-MTNL employees: Unions threaten protest march to PM Modi’s residence; hunger strike

BSNL and MTNL employees will step up their protest against the non-payment of salary during the festive season and the government’s proposed move to shut down the two stressed PSUs in telecom sector.

While MTNL employees have given a notice to organise a protest march from India Gate to Prime Minister Modi’s residence 7 Lok Kalyan Marg on Wednesday evening, BSNL employee unions will observe a one-day long hunger strike on Friday to press for their demands.

BSNL and MTNL employees have resorted to these moves as their salaries remain unpaid in the month of October, despite it being the most important month of this festive season, having both the festivals of Dussehra and Deepawali.

While the salary of nearly 22,000 MTNL employees remain unpaid for the last two months — August and September, the salary of nearly 1.58 lakh BSNL employees for the last month has not been paid so far.

“We have given a notice to organise a protest rally from India Gate to Prime Minister’s residence,” said VK Tomar,  secretary-general of MTNL Executives’ Association.

According to the notice, a copy of which is reviewed by Financial Express Online, MTNL employees will take out a candle march from India Gate to Prime Minister’s residence on Wednesday evening. 

They will also take out another candle march from Azad Maidan to Governor’s house in Mumbai at the same time.

“Our salary for the month of July was delayed by 20 days, it was paid on August 20. This was the last salary paid to MTNL employees. Since then we have not received our salaries, our salary for August and September is still unpaid,” VK Tomar told Financial Express Online while talking about the plight of MTNL employees.

According to sources in BSNL-MTNL, the non-payment of salary to nearly 1.8 lakh BSNL and MTNL employees is bit strange as the Union government last week increased the dearness allowance of central government employees by 5%.

The move will place an additional burden of Rs 16,000 crore on the public exchequer per year. According to sources, while the salary burden of MTNL employees is just Rs 180 crore per month, and the salary burden of BSNL employees is around Rs 1,200 crore with the cumulative burden of Rs 1,380 crore per month. 

It’s almost equal to the burden on the government due to a 5% increase in the dearness allowance (DA) announced last week even if it were to pay the employees of these two PSUs for a year from the exchequer.

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