CWC meeting of SNEA at Bangalore from 29th to 31st August, 2019 —- Important decisions:

The Central Working Committee meeting of SNEA was held at Bangalore from 29th to 31st August, 2019. All the Circles except North East II and NTR/Delhi attended the CWC meeting. On 29th morning, Shri S. K.Mishra CGM / KTK Circle addressed the CWC meeting. Karnataka Circle and BGTD comrades under the leadership of CS Com S P Jagdale made excellent arrangements for the CWC meeting at GOKUL VEG, Airport Road, Bangalore. Veteran leader Com S B Nagavi guided them.

The CWC meeting started at 10 am on 29.08.2019 with flag hoisting by CHQ President  Com A A Khan. A brief report was presented by the General Secretary Com K Sebastin and thereafter CWC entered into serious discussions on various agenda items. Veteran leaders Com G L Jogi and Com S L Reddy addressed the CWC on 30.09.2019 and informed that a BSNL Pensioners Welfare Association will be formed shortly to take up the welfare issues of the Pensioners like Pension Revision and support the struggle for BSNL Revival.

In the CWC meeting, detailed discussions held on the issues related to the viability of BSNL and the proposed BSNL Revival Plan. Out of two days, CWC dedicated one and half day purely for discussing the issues related to BSNL Revival. The discussions continued till late night on both days and CWC extended to the 3rd day, 31.08.2019.

Due to the severe financial crisis for the last one year, majority of the HR issues having financial implications could not make much head way. Issues like 3rd Pay Revision, standard pay scales, 3% hike in superannuation benefits etc got a good momentum but when the entire focus was diverted to BSNL survival and payment of salary, naturally the priorities got changed, for the time being.

The brief of the discussions held in the CWC and the important decisions taken by the CWC is given below:

1. Discussion on BSNL Revival Plan:

It is a known fact that the Political leadership and the Govt at the highest level were made up their mind to close down BSNL and let it go for its natural death. This was visible for the last few years when BSNL denied 4G spectrum, predatory pricing of Reliance-Jio is allowed by the Regulator and the Govt, not issuing letter of comfort to facilitate BSNL for availing bank loans, no capital infusion from the owner of the company(Govt), non sanctioning of outstanding dues from DoT, non filling of BSNL Director Board posts, sidelining HR issues to demoralise and create unrest among the employees etc. The continuous struggle by the employees, the political support through continuous interaction with the Hon MPs and political leaders across party line and the media outcry compelled the Union Govt to have a relook on their approach towards BSNL. The agitations during the highly sensitive general election period compelled the Govt to announce the BSNL Revival plan during election time itself. It was a great victory for the BSNL employees and their leadership, the AUAB.

Now also it is clearly established by the top Govt authorities that BSNL revival is not their agenda through the denial of formation of SPV for taking over the loans and financial assistance from the Govt for maintaining the loss making Rural exchanges and putting the entire burden of Ex-Gratia on BSNL shoulders by the PMO. Finance Ministry still opposing any Revival package and advocating for closure of BSNL. So the entire responsibility of BSNL revival is on the shoulders of the BSNL employees, especially the Executives (as top management does not belong to BSNL).

CWC held threadbare discussions on the issues related to BSNL revival and decided to submit a detailed note to BSNL management summarising the discussions in the CWC on the following issues related to viability of BSNL and the proposed BSNL Revival Plan: 1) Predatory pricing by one TSP without any regulation by TRAI, 2) Non upgradation of BSNL CM and CFA sectors, 3) Complete violation of all the commitments made by the Govt Of India at the time of formation of BSNL on Financial viability, 4) Future road map for revival of BSNL is completely missing, 5) Impact of VRS and age reduction to 58 in the field units, 6) Less investment for 4G and more focus shall be on 5G, 7) Bringing confidence among the employees, 8) Immediate closure of loss making exchanges, 9) Massive investment, not curtailment of expenditure towards Expansion is required, 10) Non-procurement of FTTH equipments, 11) Modernization of External Plant by replacing the UG Cable with Optical Fibre, 12) Unwanted procurement, 13) Deployment of Executives from non technical wings to CSCs, sales and marketing etc, 14) Professional management at the Corporate level and Regular Directors for BSNL Board, 15) Pension Contribution on actual basic Pay instead of maximum of the Pay Scale, 16) OLA/Uber for OF Mtce, BTS mtce and other mtce related activities to be reviewed, 17) BSNL MRS and Medi-claim policy and 18) Transfer Policy/ postings to tenure Circles, soft tenure break.

2. 3rd Pay Revision for the BSNL Employees:

As per DPE guidelines, BSNL was not entitled for 3rd pay revision due to the affordability clause. However Association took a different stand, affordability clause should not be made applicable for the Pay revision of BSNL employees as it is meeting the social obligations of the Govt by incurring thousands of Crores of losses. As the Recognised Assn, we could convince the BSNL management also along with AUAB. Finally BSNL Board agreed for 3rd Pay Revision with 15% fitment and recommended the same to the Govt. BSNL is the only one CPSU where the Board agreed for 3rd Pay Revision ignoring the affordability clause and created history.

The CWC meeting had detailed discussion regarding the non-implementation of 3rd Pay Revision for the BSNL Employees and the VRS proposal. The CWC unanimously resolved that 3rd Pay Revision shall be implemented as recommended by the BSNL Board for motivating the remaining employees for better performance in a very adverse condition after the restructuring of BSNL/VRS and for the VRS optees.

3. Promotions in different wings to all the eligible Executives before implementation of VRS and 58. Scope for post based promotions in the future in view of restructuring of BSNL. Switching over to Time Bound Functional promotion before restructuring of BSNL taking place:

The CWC meeting of SNEA held at Bangalore from 29th to 31st August, 2019 had detailed discussion regarding the present post based promotions in different cadres, huge disparity in promotion among equivalent cadres in different wings, never ending litigations on seniority and reservation, the imminent threat of massive reduction of posts due to VRS and restructuring of BSNL. CWC observed that post based promotion may give temporary relief to some Executives in few cadres where vacancy is available. Other cadres continue to suffer. The restructuring proposal will finish off all the vacancies and in the future, post based promotions will become a dream. Management is dragging us into that situation.

As per the new promotion policy approved by the BSNL Board, promotion is due from 01.07.2018. In post based promotion, the promotion will be on a prospective date, not from 01.07.2018. By implementing the new promotion policy, the major demand of the Executives, Parity and Uniformity in promotions will be achieved, once for all. Finally CWC decided to put the entire resources to force the management to notify and implement the new promotion policy w.e.f 01.07.2018. After detailed discussion, the CWC unanimously resolved that the BEPPARR or CPSU Cadre Hierarchy should be implemented immediately w.e.f. 29.06.2018 or the immediate review date, 01.07.2018 and all the eligible Executives should be given promotion before their retirement through VRS and restructuring of BSNL taking place. As approved by the BSNL Board, the new policy is to be implemented following the reservation policies of the Govt. CWC further resolved that if management fails to implement the new promotion policy before VRS and proceeding with post reduction by restructuring of BSNL, it will be opposed organizationally.

CWC also authorised CHQ to take appropriate legal action also, if required, to get the new promotion policy implemented.

CWC expressed serious concern over non-issuing of Adhoc DGM(T) promotions as there is no stay on promotions. 1150 DGM(T) vacancies are available now but the AGMs eligible for DGM promotion are only 1126. CWC urges BSNL management to take immediate steps to promote all the eligible AGMs to DGMs against the vacancies.

CWC also authorised CHQ to take appropriate legal or organizational actions as required to get the promotion orders issued before October, 2019.

4. Voluntary Retirement Scheme:

As long as VRS is voluntary, CWC decided to take a neutral stand on the issue and to get the best package. CWC demanded that VRS should be implemented along with 3rd PRC as a package as recommended by the Consultant, M/s IIM(Ahmadabad) to make it more attractive so that more employees can opt for the same, voluntarily.

5. Proposal for reduction of retirement from 60 to 58:

The CWC meeting had detailed discussion regarding the Govt move for reduction of retirement age from 60 to 58 years for the BSNL employees, arbitrarily. CWC noted with great concern that Govt is going back from its commitments one by one, given at the time of BSNL formation. As per the terms and condition for absorption in BSNL, the retirement age of BSNL employees will be governed by the Govt rules in force. For the counterpart Central Govt employees, the retirement age is still continuing as 60 years. By abruptly reducing the retirement age, the employees are losing increments, which is having far reaching implications in Pension, Commutation of Pension, Leave encashment, Gratuity etc in addition to the salary for the remaining period. The 3rd PRC benefits also not extended to the BSNL employees. Further all the remaining BSNL employees also will lose two years of service in the future. After detailed discussion CWC unanimously resolved that the Govt should desist from this arbitrary move for reduction of retirement age from 60 to 58 years for the BSNL employees which is in complete violation of the Terms and condition for absorption in BSNL.

CWC decided to oppose this arbitrary move of the Govt organizationally and legally and authorised CHQ for appropriate action.

6. Impact of VRS and age reduction to58 in the field units:

CWC noted that the burden of Ex- Gratia payment to the VRS optees will be on BSNL. Govt did not agree to the BSNL proposal for the payment of Ex-Gratia by the Govt. It will be a big liability on BSNL after the bond period of 10 years.

It is natural that drastic post reduction, ban on recruitment etc will take place as part of VRS implementation. This will have serious adverse impact on the promotional avenues of the Executives.

The large scale VRS will have serious impact in the field units and it will be difficult to fill up the vacum as majority of the Executives working in the field units may opt for VRS. This may result in large scale redeployment and transfers, much to the inconvenience of the employees.

The entire burden of additional work load after VRS implementation will be on the shoulders of the remaining employees, especially Executives.

7. Pension Revision and Joint platform with BSNL pensioners for pension revision:

The CWC meeting of SNEA had detailed discussion regarding the Pension Revision for the pre-2017 BSNL Pensioners (Govt Pensioners retired from BSNL). The pension and pension revision is covered by CCS Pension Rules, 1972. Pension Revision is having no link with the Pay Revision of the serving employees and the affordability of BSNL as pension is paid by the Govt of India. The CWC noted with great concern that DoT is not even replying to the queries raised by DoP&PW regarding the Pension Revision for the pre-2017 BSNL Pensioners. Anomaly is already occurred as their counter parts, the Central Govt Pensioners already got pension revision from 2016 onwards. Both BSNL Pensioners and Central Govt Pensioners are governed by the same Pension Rules, CCS Pension Rules, 1972 but Pension Revision is not implemented for the BSNL Pensioners. During 2nd Pay Revision, the Pension Revision was done with 30% fitment as recommended by the 2nd PRC.

CWC welcomed the initiative of Com G L Jogi and Com S L Reddy to form a Pensioners Welfare Association to focus on the Pension Revision and to support the struggles for the Revival of BSNL. SNEA members on retirement can Associate with this platform.

After detailed discussion, the CWC unanimously resolved that the Pension Revision for the pre-2017 BSNL Pensioners should be done immediately, delinking Pension Revision from the Pay Revision of the serving BSNL employees. It should not be delayed further. Govt is not ready to delink the Pension Revision from the Pay Revision.

CWC decided to take appropriate legal action through the retirees for the Pension Revision w.e.f. 01.01.2017, without further delay. Efforts will be made to coordinate with Pensioners welfare Associations also in this regard.

8. Implementation of Standard pay scales of E2, E3 etc:

Because of the financial crisis going on for the last one year, this issue did not get much headway. We could get the matter clubbed with other pending issues of 2nd PRC during the discussions with DoT.

The CWC unanimously resolved that the BSNL recommendation for the standard pay scales of E2 and E3 w.e.f. 01.01.2007, replacing the intermediary Pay Scales of E1A and E2A shall be approved by DoT at the earliest, settling one of the long pending issues of 2nd Pay Revision.

9. Superannuation Benefits to BSNL recruited employees:

The CWC meeting had detailed discussion regarding the retirement benefits and Social Security for BSNL directly recruited employees. 30% Superannuation benefits is the only social security available for them. We got a big breakthrough when CMD promised an additional 3% contribution by March, 2019 in addition to the existing 25%. However this commitment of BSNL management is not implemented so far. This is an outstanding issue of 2nd PRC recommendations.

After detailed discussion, the CWC unanimously resolved that the 3% additional contribution assured by the BSNL management is to be implemented at the earliest. BSNL shall accord highest priority for the contribution towards 30% Superannuation benefits as per DPE guidelines.

10. Pay Parity of Rs 22820/- and Pay loss for post 2007 recruits:

CWC observed that in the present financial condition, getting a solution to this issue through discussion with management alone may not be feasible and may take long time.

After discussion, CWC decided to explore the possibility of legal options and authorised CHQ to take appropriate legal actions. Initially the matter will be taken up for those JTO/JAOs joined between 2007 and 2010 as similar benefit is extended to some cadres, joined upto 2010. Subsequently the case for the remaining batches will be taken for generalization.

11. EPF Full Pension option:

As per the CWC, Bhubaneswar decision, SNEA is in touch with NCOA for becoming a party in the proceedings going on in the Hon Supreme Court on EPF Full Pension issue. The applicants in the court case at Hon SC and NCOA advised us to pursue the matter through NCOA as most probably the benefits in the cases pursued by NCOA will be extended to all. Thereafter we are pursuing it through the applicants as well as NCOA by supporting them financially also. Out of 4 Review Petitions filed by EPFO and the Labour Ministry, two are already dismissed by the Hon SC in favour of the applicants/NCOA. The remaining two RPs will be taken up by the Hon CJI bench immediately after the Ayodhya case hearing is completed. We are waiting for the outcome of the Review Petitions. The RPs are listed for hearing on 05.09.2019 and now the case is tentatively fixed for 19.09.2019.

CWC reiterated its earlier decisions to legally fight for EPF full pension option.

All BSNL employees are advised not to make any contribution to any group on this issue as the matter is pending before the Hon SC for final disposal in the form of Review Petitions.

12. Group Term Insurance:

CWC recorded its appreciation for settling a major issue by SNEA which will give big relief to the family of the young Executives on untimely death. It is a demand raised by SNEA and pursued by SNEA till the end.

13. Next Membership verification:

CWC decided to make preparations for the next Membership verification in case management notifies the same. Keeping the MV in mind, some groups already started mal propaganda through the social media to confuse the Executives as done during the last MV. Ultimately they got defeated but management got an opportunity to divide the Executives further, thereby not resolving any issues. It is also decided that Association need not take any initiative for the MV as management is treating all the Assns at par as far as issues are concerned. Management gone back from the REA Rules it had framed, making MV irrelevant. The only one dispute before the MV, who is the majority Association is clearly established by SNEA and beyond that MV has not given much breakthrough in resolving any issue.

Management utilised small Assns and groups to scuttle major HR issues of the Executives like standard pay scales, new promotion policy, parity in promotions etc by making them also a party, contrary to the provisions of the REA Rules.

14. Co-option of CS in MH Circle and holding Circle Conferences of HP, GUJ, NE I and A&N Circles:

Upholding the SNEA constitution which is sacrosanct, CWC did not approve the co-option of CS, MH Circle by the CEC of MH Circle held at Pune on 09.02.2019. CWC directed MH Circle to hold the Circle conference before 01st December, 2019.

Further CWC took a serious note of undue delay in conduction of Circle Conferences by few Circles namely HP, NE I, GUJ and A&N Circles and directed them to hold the Circle conferences before 01st December, 2019.

15. Notional pay of E1A and E2A for Civil/Elect wings w.e.f. 01.10.2000:

This long pending issue from absorption time is before the BSNL Board. However DoT made objections in considering the matter in the Board. DoT stand is that the employees drawing the pay scale less than Rs 6500-10500 as on 01.10.2000 cannot be given Executives pay scales. It is decided by the CWC to pursue the matter further.

16. First TB promotion Uniformly after 4 years:

This demand has become more relevant and anomalies created after the second Pay Revision implementation. CWC decided to pursue the matter further.

17. Nomination of Internal Auditors:

CWC nominated Com Shanmuga Sundararajan, CWC member from Chennai and Com S P Jagdale, CS/KTK Circle as the Internal Auditors for this term.

18. Activities under AUAB:

Common issues of BSNL employees, mainly the issues pertain to the BSNL are taken up under the banner of AUAB. If such issues are taken up by individual Associations or Unions alone, it will not have much effect on the Govt. Only those issues having unanimity among the AUAB constituents are taken up by the AUAB.

The biggest achievement of the AUAB struggles is the BSNL Revival package. The Govt which was preparing the ground for the natural death of BSNL has given a shock treatment by the AUAB agitations during the last one year and the public support it got. This compelled the Govt to reverse its stand, atleast publically and declare a revival package for BSNL. By our struggle, BSNL will be getting 4G spectrum and the permission to monetize the land through the Revival package.

CWC concluded that strike call should be avoided and in future strike call shall be given only during extreme situations.

19. BSNL MRS and Medi-claim policy:

CWC is of the opinion that it is high time to review the BSNL MRS and explore the possibility for Medi-claim policies.

20. Transfer Policy/ postings to tenure Circles, soft tenure break:

CWC demands that the soft tenure break is to be restored back as promised earlier and transfer to the tenure Circle shall be purely on need basis only.CWC Bangalore decisions