Early Pension Revision of BSNL retirees a must- V.A.N.Namboodiri

The DOT is delaying decision on Pension Revision of the absorbed  BSNL retirees, even though they are eligible for the same from 01-01-2017. Since the government has taken the full responsibility of Pension of these absorbed workers and since the III PRC has recommended 15% fitment, there should not be any delay for taking a decision. But the DOT seems to be sitting tight despite BSNLEU, AUAB, AIBDPA, NCCPA and other organisations have been continuously pressing the government for the same. AIBDPA has already organised many programmes. The latest is the thousands of Post Cards being sent to the Prime Minister for immediate orders.

It was not an easy route for grant of Pension Revision of the above retirees. After the first wage revision in BSNL w.e.f. 01-10-2000, the stand taken by the government was that since government is paying pension, it can only be on the government pay scales(CDA), which was much lower than the BSNL wages. (Rs. 2400 was the minimum salary in DOT whereas due to wage revision it was Rs.4,000 in BSNL). After much struggle, pension was fixed on the basis of the BSNL  IDA wages, as per the demand of all the unions jointly.

In the  second wage revision and pension revision also, the same were fixed on the IDA scale as earlier. based on the recommendations of II PRC.  This further benefitted the BSNL employees/pensioners.

Now naturally and logically the wages and pension revisions are to be based on the IDA scales as recommended by the III PRC. But one of the pension associations seems to have demanded for wage and  pension revision based on VII CPC recommemdations which are on CDA scales. We need not point out that how it will adversely affect the wages as well as the  pension of the BSNL absorbed employees. Of course, these comrades might have been under the illusion that BSNL is finished, there will be no wage revision and no pension revision on IDA scales since the III PRC has mentioned about ‘affordability’. These comrades forget how the great P and T TU movement have fought and got many demands, which were continuously been rejected by the government. Even  the achievements in BSNL were through sustained struggles.

These comrades feel that BSNL will be privatised shortly and there is no future for its employees. Hence, at least the problems of the pensioners can be settled by opting for CDA pension as per the VII CPC recommendations. Some of the comrades  are so confused that they are telling that the pension revision of the existing pensioners, whose pension has been fixed on the IDA pattern on the basis of II PRC recommendations ( and wage negotiations) should now be revised as per the VII CPC recommendations ( which are based on CDA scales). The reason mentioned for this strange demand is that BSNL will not survive and there will not be any wage revision in future. It is based on negative thinking. At present BSNL is alive and the workers are fighting for its survival. Stating that BSNL will not survive is not only an insult to the workers, but also is a discouraging statement.  By the way, where is the assurance of any future Pay Commission, when the CPC itself has stated that there need not be any CPC in future. But CG employees will fight as in the past and ensure their pay revisions, CPC or not.

Due to continuous discussion, struggles and pesuation, it is reported that BSNL  has recommended to DOT for the wage revision of executives with 15% fitment on the basis of the recommendations of the III PRC on IDA scale. It is also reported that it is pending with the DOT. The wage negotiation of non-executives is continuing, certain pay scales have been proposed both by the management and the Unions and discussion is continuing, all based on the IDA pay scales. The agreement also will go to the DOT, though we feel that there is no requirement.

As such, the process of wage revision of both executives and non-executives is based on the IDA scales based on the recommendations of the III PRC. The pension  of the employees who retire after 01-01-2017 will be fixed on the basis of half of the wages on IDA scales. Pension being fixed on any other basis will create such utter confusion and complications, dividing the entire BSNL pensioners, those who retired before and after 01-01-2017.

Hence the logical and financially beneficial demand is that the pension revision w.e.f. 01-01-2017 should be made with 15% fitment as recommended by the III PRC with immediate effect, without waiting for the conclusion of the wage revision. This demand is raised on two premises that the full pension is being paid by the government and that the pensioners can not wait much. We could make the BSNL to take  a similar decision in the case of medical allowance which was restored first for the pensioners.