NEW DELHI: State-run telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) have started feeling the heat of staff shortage in the form of operational losses, more than a year after nearly 93,000 officials of both telcos opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) offered by the Central government.
To help BSNL and MTNL tide over the challenge, various field and attached offices of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) have approached the Telecom Ministry, seeking clarification whether the employees who had opted for the VRS can be “rehired as consultants”, Indian Express reported citing sources.
A senior government official told the publication that the DoT has asked all the field and various attached offices to not go ahead with the recruitment of BSNL and MTNL staff who had taken VRS, as consultants, until the matter is examined thoroughly.
“This matter is presently under examination in DoT HQs (headquarters) and guidelines in this respect would be issued as and when the decision on this matter is taken. Till then, applications of retirees of BSNL/MTNL under VRS-2019 may not be considered for engagement as consultants,” an official communication of the DoT said, as reviewed by the publication.
The Central government had, in October 2019, approved the VRS scheme for BSNL and MTNL as part of the telcos’ revival plans– which would have allowed BSNL to cut its wage expenses by 50%, while that at MTNL would have come down by up to 75%.
Of the total 1,53,000 employees working for BSNL– over 50%– or about 78,569 employees had opted to retire, while at MTNL, nearly 80% of its total workforce, or about 14,4000 employees had opted to retire.
Most of the employees who had opted for the VRS were in the non-executive category, in the age group of 55-60 years, the DoT had said back then.
The ex-gratia payment to be given to employees of BSNL and MTNL has been fixed at 35 days of salary for each year of service and 25 days of salary for each year up till retirement.
As per the report, the first installment of the compensation, or 50% of the total payment was to be paid in 2020-21, while the second installment will be paid during the current fiscal year.
Though several employees at BSNL and MTNL have received the first installment of VRS payment, the second installment has been mostly delayed owing to expenditure costs following the economic impact of Covid-19.


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