BSNL and MTNL face a staff shortage since 93,000 people voluntarily opted for retirement as per the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) offered by the government.
Request For Permission To Rehire
The state-run telcos are exploring rehiring some among those who opted for retirement to serve as consultants.
They have written to the Telecom Ministry requesting clarity on whether they can do that.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has currently forbidden the recruitment of retired staff as consultants until it examines the issue.
In an official order, the DoT said that the matter is presently being reviewed and until a decision is formally announced, no one shall onboard any rehired employees.
Over Half Of Total Employees Choose To Retire
When the govt approved the VRS in Oct 2019, 78,569 employees, or over half of the total workforce of 1,53,000 employees at BSNL, had chosen to retire.
In MTNL, the figure stands at 14,400 voluntarily retired employees, 80% of its total staff strength. Most of these employees served in the non-executive category and were aged between 55-60 years.
As part of the scheme, they were assured of lump-sum compensation in the form of 35 days of salary for each year in service and 25 days of pay for each year left until retirement.
The first installment, half of the total amount owed, was to be paid in 2020-21 and the second installment this year.
Several have already received the first installment, but the second one is pending due to cuts in expenditure following the economic impact of the pandemic.
Govt Allocates Money
In the 2020-21 budget, the government set aside Rs 37,278 crore to fund the VRS payouts and for capital requirements in BSNL and MTNL.
Out of the amount, Rs 13,194 crore was allocated to implement the scheme and ex-gratia payments to the voluntarily retired employees.
Rs 20,410 crore was assigned to BSNL and MTNL for capital infusion for the 4G spectrum.
Where Have The Funds Gone?
But there is an inconsistency in the use of these funds as the Rs 13,366 crore allocated for the VRS was not spent on capital infusion for either organization.
In the current fiscal, Rs 20,410 crore has been allocated for capital infusion and 4G spectrum. Rs 3,000 crore has been doled out for VRS.