BSNL seeks nod to offer VRS to 20,000

BSNL, which has an ageing workforce, has sought the government’s nod to offer Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) to 20,000 employees, and hire Class-I officers in their place to improve efficiency and compete better with private operators.

That BSNL, which has over 3.6 lakh employees, needs to streamline its workforce was a fact Mr Raja drove home while addressing a gathering of the PSU’s employees. Inaugurating BSNL’s new headquarters in the Capital, he said the telco was “at risk when compared to private operators who had a highly qualified and younger work force”.

The minister said BSNL’s current system of human resource management did not permit any preferential treatment or compensation to performers vis-a-vis non-performers. “An appropriate motivational step, linked with accountability at all levels, is the need of the hour,” Mr Raja added.

When asked about Mr Raja’s comments, the PSU’s outgoing CMD AK Sinha said: “We have already written to the government regarding a proposal to give VRS to 20,000 employees in the C and D group (semi-skilled and unskilled category). They (DoT) have some queries over the proposal and we will shortly reply to them.” The government is examining the pension liabilities of large-scale VRS, he said.

Mr Sinha, who relinquished office on Tuesday, also added that the PSU planned to hire 6,000 junior telecom officers and technical officers each, in addition to a couple of thousand management trainees who would be engineering graduates with management degrees. “This young lot will serve us in the future — over the next four-five years, they will mature into a very capable workforce,” Mr Sinha added.

In a related development, the government on Monday asked BSNL’s director, planning and new services, Kuldeep Goyal, to hold the additional charge of chairman and MD of BSNL. Sources said that Mr Goyal would take over as the CMD after he receives the clearance from the Appointment Committee of Cabinet.