As many as 70,000 employees of BSNL have already opted for the VRS scheme which was launched last week, Chairman and MD of the state-owned telecom corporation P K Purwar said on Monday.
In all, nearly one lakh BSNL employees are eligible for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) out of its total strength of about 1.50 lakh. BSNL has pegged its internal target for VRS at 77,000 employees, and the effective date of voluntary retirement under the present scheme is January 31, 2020. ‘The number of employees who have opted for VRS so far has reached about 70,000. The response has been strong across the board,’ Purwar told PTI.
The corporation has also been asked by the telecom department to urgently consider measures to ensure smooth operations and business continuity, especially with regard to the telephone exchanges in rural areas, following launch of the VRS scheme, which is set to bring down its staff strength by nearly half.
‘BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme – 2019’ that was rolled out last week will remain open till December 3. BSNL is looking at savings of about Rs 7,000 crore in wage bill, if 70,000-80,000 personnel opt for the scheme.
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 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.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) too has rolled out a VRS for its employees. The scheme, based on Gujarat Model, will also be open for employees till December 3, 2019.
The Union Cabinet last month had approved the plan to combine MTNL – which provides services in Mumbai and New Delhi – with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (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, government funding of Rs 17,160 crore for 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 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.