More than 78,000 employees of BSNL will retire on January 31, in one of the largest retirement drives in the country. Reducing the number of employees is one way for the cash-strapped PSU to find a way out of the financial crisis they find themselves lodged in now. "Approximately 78,300 employees have opted for the VRS as per data received from all the circles till the closing of the scheme. This is as per our target. We were expecting reduction of 82,000 headcount. Besides VRS applicants, around 6,000 employees also retired," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director P.K. Purwar told PTI. There would be around 85,000 employees left after the retirement drive.
The voluntary retirement scheme of BSNL and MTNL had closed in December, with over 92,700 employees opting for it, senior officials told PTI. According to the scheme, all regular and permanent employees of BSNL including those on deputation to other organisations or posted outside the corporation on deputation basis, who attained 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.
Around 78,300 employees of BSNL and 14,378 of MTNL have opted for the scheme. The PSUs had set December 3 as deadline for employees to opt for VRS. MTNL Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Kumar said that the PSU too has exceeded the target set for VRS. "14,378 employees have opted for VRS against target of 13,650 employees. This will reduce our annual salary bill from Rs 2,272 crore to Rs 500 crore. Now we are left with 4,430 employees which is sufficient to run our business," Kumar told PTI.
The Union Cabinet had earlier 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 GST to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising Rs 15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and the government funding Rs 17,160 crore VRS and another Rs 12,768 crore towards retirement liability. 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 losses 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.
-Inputs from PTI