With the rollout of Voluntary Retirement Scheme, BSNL staff is expected to cut by almost half and the ministry is concerned that it might affect business and operations. Department of Telecom (DoT) has hence instructed BSNL to have measures in place that ensure smooth transition. They are particularly concerned for telephone exchanges in rural areas.
To ensure that work doesn't get affected, many options are being discussed. Several meetings are being held to find a solution to ensure there is no impact on day-to-day manning of exchanges and other operations, once the VRS plan concludes.
The Voluntary Retirement Scheme rolled out last week makes nearly one lakh BSNL employees eligible to opt for it. Out of 1.50 lakh total employees at BSNL, 57,000 have already taken it. Further, with
BSNL's internal target for VRS is pegged at 77,000 employees, the staff strength is expected to come down by half.
While the company has taken to let go almost half of its employees, how will it reengineer its business remains unknown. However, now the leadership is constantly working on putting together measures to ensure business continuity.
BSNL Chairman and MD P K Purwar shared that discussions have been initiated on the issue and said the corporation is planning business re-engineering and business continuity.
As the effective date of voluntary retirement under the present scheme is 31st January 2020, the corporation doesn't have much time left to put together a robust plan.
Purwar agreed that they have to work meticulously.
He said, "We have now started taking the data, which SSA, which unit, how many people are taking VRS....We will still be left with about 80,000 people. So, the numbers are not less...but it will be almost half. The work culture will also have to change."
Some of the options being discussed for post VRS include roping in these retires personnels as consultants and tendering or outsourcing some of the work.
BSNL has been ringing in loss since 2010 along with MTNL. The total debt on both the companies stood at Rs 40,000 crore, of which half of the liability is on MTNL alone. And with the current VRS BSNL is looking at savings of about Rs 7,000 crore in wage bill, if 70,000-80,000 personnel opt for the scheme. However, for long-term and sustainable growth, it has to look for better ways to drive business. For now, the focus has to be on not letting the downsizing affect services. BSNL will need resources to run the operations smoothly, what works best outsourcing or hiring retired employees as consultants, only time will tell.