Govt mulls a second revival package for BSNL

Telecom News – The government is considering providing a second, but smaller revival package to BSNL and preliminary talks have already begun in this regard. According to sources, the ailing state-owned firm, which was given a Rs 70,000-crore revival package in October 2019, is now seeking support for 4G rollout and settlement of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues owed by it, to clean up its balance sheet. The firm owes around Rs 5,000 crore as AGR dues.

Official sources said that a few preliminary meetings between the department of telecommunications (DoT) and BSNL officials have already taken place to chart out a revival strategy, which would address the issues raised by the company. Further, the government is looking at increasing the scope of BSNL by allocating the BharatNet project to it after winding up BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network). “In such a scenario, some kind of financial support needs to be given to BSNL. We are working on finalising the modalities around it,” an official told FE.

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Team AIGETOA meeting with Hon’ble MOC Govt of India at Bhubaneswar (Odisha) on 6th Jan 2022

Team AIGETOA comprising of Shri D K Sahoo AGS CHQ, Shri Ashok Acharya Jt Secy East, Shri P K Mohanty (CP Odisha) and Shri Dhiren Parida (CS Odisha) met Hon’ble MOC Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw ji at Bhubaneswar on 6th January 22 and submitted memorandum. Team also felicitated Honble minister with the traditional shawl (Vesti).

The team requested him for Immediate Launch of 4G services, where MOC assured for early roll out of 4G services in BSNL.

Team informed the Hon’ble MOC that BSNL is having thousands of Engineering Professionals with B.Tech/M.Tech and Account Professionals with CA but BSNL has not devised any mechanism for their fast track promotion to take up the higher responsibilities of DGM/GM/CGM. The existing professionally qualified executives are ready to manage BSNL at middle level and higher management level and looking towards Hon’ble Minister to intervene. Team emphasised firm support of BSNL Employees for the good endeavours taken by Government for the betterment of BSNL.

Team also requested for his kind intervention for approval of the DoT for long pending Standard Pay Scale E2 for JTO/JAO and E3 for SDE/AO Equivalent Cadre.

Hon’ble MOC has assured us to looked into these issues and also agreed to grant a meeting with the association at New Delhi.

Team AIGETOA Meeting with CMD BSNL on 30.12.2021:

Team AIGETOA met with CMD BSNL on 30.12.2021 and held detailed deliberation for more than half an hour on the issues of Implementation of Standard Pay Scale E2 for JTO/JAO Equivalent Grade and E3 for SDE/AO Equivalent Grade, Promotion in various Grades/Streams, Revisiting of stagnation Criteria of JTO/JAO and introduction of same in SDE/AO Equivalent Grades, Fast Track Promotion Channel and ongoing BSNL Revival Measures. Shri Ravi Shil Verma AIP, Shri Wasi Ahmad GS and Shri Badri Kumar Mehta VP attended the meeting from AIGETOA side. The GS/AGS AIBSNLEA also accompanied in the meeting and participated in the deliberation. The meeting held in positive atmosphere and lasted for more than half an hour and detailed deliberations held on each and every point.

Standard Pay Scale E2 for JTO/JAO and E3 for SDE/AO Equivalent Grades:

The association presented the issue of standard pay scale to CMD BSNL and apprised that AIGETOA has held three meetings in the DoT in last Two Months and come to the conclusion that mere sending of reminder letter to the DoT as done on our request may not be sufficient to get the desired result. The current reminder letter has brought the issue once again on the discussion table but more needs to be done for the final settlement. This issue is Residual of 2nd PRC and sent to the DoT after Approval of Management Committee of BSNL BOARD on 06.06.2016. The Backbone Cadre of BSNL, JTO/JAO and SDE/AO equivalent grades are still working with Provisional Scales of E1 and E2 despite passage of 14 years of 2nd PRC in BSNL. MTNL merger is again under discussion and it is the most appropriate time to settle the issue of E2-E3 to bring parity among the entry grade executives i.e. JTO/JAO Equivalent Grade of the two organizations’. The scale of JTO/JAO in MTNL is E2, whereas the scale is provisionally E1 in BSNL till date and so any possible merger will face challenges both legally as well as organizationally and damper the prospects of the whole merger process.

After detailed deliberation, it was assured by the CMD BSNL that he will look into it afresh towards solution. He assured us that he will be taking this up with Hon’ble Secretary DoT for initiating reconsideration by DoT. We are of the firm believe that it is the best time to re-initiate serious dialogue through multiple platforms for settlement of the E2 and E3 Scale issue for BSNL. The issue is linked with the approval of DoT and hence the association has again started working in that directions and holding regular meetings on the issue at different level in the DoT and BSNL. With intervention of CMD BSNL with apex at DoT, the issue is going to get a fresh push for resolution.

Promotions in various Grades and Streams:

The discussion held on Promotion in various Grades/Streams including JTO to SDE, SDE to AGM, AO to CAO and AGM to DGM equivalent. It was appraised by CMD BSNL that he is not averse to the Promotion in any grade till not stayed by any Court of Law. Accordingly, he has directed to complete all promotions through DPC of Pre-VRS period in First Phase if not under legal entangle in the Court. Accordingly the process was initiated in all streams and some order also issued. The ongoing JTO to SDE promotion of left out candidates got stuck up due to obstacle created by certain section. Fortunately, intervention of the association at right time brought it back on the track. We assure one and all that the Promotion of subsequent batches is equally important for us as well as it is also our responsibility and we will get it done soon. As we believe in Execution of Promotion and not Creating Obstacle in Promotion. We have ensured more than 4500 Promotions in SDE equivalent Grades across streams in last Six Months and we will ensure further in coming Months with your support.

SDE to AGM Promotion was taken up with CMD BSNL and apprised that our fellow executives are waiting for this from 8-17 years, whereas the required residency period is just 7 years. Field Units are reeling with acute shortage of Officers in the grade of AGM and DGM in both Telecom and Finance Streams. CMD was apprised about the mechanism suggested by Dir HR to call for legal opinion to find out the ways in view of the SLP at Hon’ble Supreme Court, where the case has been heard and Order has been reserved on 26th October, 2021. It was informed to us that BSNL has challenged the decision of Hon’ble CAT Chandigarh, which has declared the June-2018 AGM Promotion provisional and hence department is unable to move forward. The association once again suggested exploring the Promotion in AGM Grade by considering promoting all SDEs, who have competed seven years of residency period in the grade. This will not bring any major deviation in the current structure considering the fact that hardly 5K SDEs are available with the said residency period. The AO to CAO and AGM to DGM equivalent Promotions were also apprised and deliberated. Field requirements and one time relaxation were also discussed for executing these promotion orders.

CMD BSNL patiently listened our arguments and echoed our concern but apprised that without getting legal position he may not arrive on any conclusion and so he suggested us to sit with the HR Team and find the ways to move ahead on these promotions. He told that he himself is concerned for these promotions considering the long stagnation as well as requirement of the officers in these grades and hence any legally tenable solution will be welcomed. We appraised that without ensuring promotions in these grades, we may not move forward and hence some solution must be find out for peace in the organisation. We will further take up the issue with Director HR and PGM Pers as discussed.

Notification of LDCE for Subsequent Batches of JTOs:

We requested for early notification of LDCE examination in such a way that executives from all the subsequent batches can appear in the exam. It was assured to us that association request shall be given due consideration and management will come out with solution soon.

Time Bound Promotion in SDE and AGM and Equivalent Grades through Stagnation:

We appraised that despite of passage of more than twenty one years of formation of BSNL, no definite career progression has been provided to the executive fraternity. BSNL approved policy is not finding the ways to implement and hence it was suggested to ensure the Time Bound Mechanism through Stagnation Route to ensure reaching of the executives to at least up to AGM Equivalent Grades in a definite time period. The stagnation criteria of 12 years introduced in the JTO/JAO Equivalent Grade for Promotion beyond Sanction Posts is not at all acceptable and must be revisited. A stagnation criterion in the SDE Equivalent Grade should also be introduced to Promote Executives to the AGM Equivalent Grade post beyond Sanctioned Strength in a Time Bound Manner.

It is our firm demand to make the Stagnation criteria in such a way that an Executive reaches to AGM grade in a span of around 15 years. Enforcing stagnation as the criteria in RRs for next promotion will make the Promotions Time Bound as well as they will remove the major lacunae of earlier approved policy and hence may be acceptable to all stake holders.

CMD BSNL suggested that the Recruitment Rules framing/modifications are under way and the decisions will be taken only after taking inputs and submission of the association. He suggested for getting into discussion with the HR Team as the Recruitment Rule drafting is underway and submits the suggestions. He assured that the points raised by the association will be judged on merit and incorporated to maximum possible extent. We apprised that the association will not sit quiet without getting a Time Bound Criteria for the Promotions up to AGM Equivalent Grades.

Adoption of Fast Track Promotion Mechanism in BSNL:

We highlighted to start Fast Track Promotion Mechanism in BSNL to give younger generation a suitable path to reach the echelon of their career in BSNL. BSNL has no management succession plan resulting into a crisis in middle and higher middle level management. BSNL is still struggling to introduce a system to push its own recruited executives to take the driving seat in the department and instead depending on the officers from the Department of Telecom. The recent trend has already given a message and delay of incorporation of Fast Track Promotion Mechanism may pose a serious crisis in coming days. We also demanded to convert the DR DGM seats into an Internal Fast Track Mechanism at DGM Level immediately and subsequently add more seats to it.

CMD BSNL appraised that he fully agrees with the idea of the association and more than willing to introduce such system in BSNL and assured to discuss with HR Team and the Association also to bring such changes during ongoing Recruitment Rule Modifications.

BSNL Revival Measures and Pan India 4G roll Out:

It was raised by the association that the healthiness of BSNL has not been achieved despite of the passage of more than two years of revival package by the Govt of India and roll out of the 4G is still pending while no discussion on the testing of 5G.

CMD BSNL once again confirmed that all stake holders are giving a serious push for an early 4G rollout by BSNL and he is very hopeful that it will be started in second quarter of the next financial year as per the target time. The indigenous technology used in the 4G Roll Out is going to play a vital role in the process. He apprised that the PoC phase of 4G testing is going in right direction and expected to meet the time line smoothly. The government is keenly watching the process as well as sustainability of BSNL and all necessary measures are taken to achieve the goal. A comprehensive discussion was held on this topic also but we are restricting ourselves strategically in the interest of the organisation and details will be shared at a suitable time.

We extended our thanks to the CMD BSNL for considering our request and releasing the funds of five months for pending SAB Contribution. We requested that remaining part of the SAB should also be deposited at the earliest. We also requested for clearance of Rule-8/9 cases in the current financial year itself.

The meeting ended on a positive note and association will be following the issues further. We assure the fraternity that our decisions to defer the call and getting into discussion table on the above stated points as well others was need of the hour. Any absentee from the discussion table in this crucial juncture of the formation/modification of Recruitment Rules may cause irreparable damage and hence we decided accordingly. The issue of E2-E3 is crucial and parleys in the DoT from the Association as well as taking up the issue at the level of Secretary (T) by CMD BSNL are equally important for approval. If we found that management is moving away from its promises, the association will not wait and resume the program with full vigor. Accordingly, the period should be utilised to educate all about status and be in readiness mode in case of any eventuality.