Nearly a lakh jobs in the domestic telecom sector are at risk as the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) continues its non-payment of Rs 20,000 crore worth of outstanding dues. The outstanding dues have resulted in the vendor companies' inability to disburse wages as well as in mounting pressure from creditors. Companies are facing difficulties in sustaining their non-core workforce across functions and are contemplating job cuts.
Sandeep Aggarwal, Chairman of Telecom Committee at PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry and co-Chairman of the Telecom Exports Promotion Council called it an unfortunate situation. "More than 1 lakh employees of domestic companies may be out of their jobs in the next few weeks if the government continues to ignore the financially-stressed industry," he told The Economic Times. The domestic telecom industry employs more than 2 lakh individuals, including gear makers and suppliers.
Companies including Sterlite Technologies Limited, Vihaan Networks Limited, Tejas Networks, Paramount Wires & Cables Limited, Aksh OptiFibre, Transline Technologies and Birla Cable Limited have been urging BSNL since December last year to clear its dues.
More than 1,100 complaints - the highest against any public sector company in India - have been filed by firms against BSNL to recover the dues.
According to the report, both on-roll and off-roll workforce are planning to stage a protest and sit-in outside the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) premises.
Aggarwal said that the unpaid dues of Rs 20,000 crore were impacting the entire ecosystem down the value chain. He added that despite the Make in India initiative, the bureaucratic mismanagement has led to such a state of affairs. Even dues to MSMEs are not being cleared within 45 days, as was the mandate by the government, he said as mentioned in the daily.
The government had announced the merger of loss-making state-owned telecom operators BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) last month. The government had also approved an Rs 69,000-crore revival package for the combined entity.
Also read: Why merging MTNL and BSNL is futile