Over 18,000 BSNL staff opt for VRS within days of roll-out

Within days of the state-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) opening its voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), over 18,400 employees are reported to have opted for it. 

The government last month announced a Rs30,000-crore VRS package for employees of the two state-run telecom companies – Bharat Sanchar Nigam ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), as part of a Rs70,000-crore revival plan for the two loss-making firms.
The loss-making PSU rolled out the scheme for its employees on 3 November, following the union cabinet cleared a Rs70,000 crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL last month. 
In a communication to its circle heads, BSNL said: "In pursuance of the decision of the union cabinet as conveyed by Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2019 is being circulated to all concerned and invites options from employees eligible under the scheme for seeking voluntary retirement as per the provision of the scheme.
"Options seeking voluntary retirement under the scheme shall remain open from November 4 up to December 3 and the effective date of voluntary retirement under this scheme will be January 31, 2020," it said.
BSNL has also instructed the chief of circles "to give wide publicity to the scheme to enable all the eligible employees to take an informed decision and exercise the option for VRS within the prescribed time period".
For BSNL employees, the VRS option will remain open till 4 December. The scheme was opened on 3 November. 
Reports said over 18,400 of the more than 1 lakh eligible BSNL employees opted for VRS till 7 pm on Wednesday (7 November). BSNL has about 1.5 lakh employees.
The company expects 70,000-80,000 people to opt for the scheme, which will lead to an annual saving about Rs7,000 crore in the wage bill.
According to ‘BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2019’ all regular and permanent employees of BSNL who are aged 50 years or above are eligible to seek voluntary retirement under the scheme.
The amount of ex-gratia for any eligible employee will be equal to 35 days salary for each completed year of service and 25 days salary for every year of service left until superannuation.
The other telecom PSU — MTNL, which operates only on Delhi and Mumbai, has also rolled out a VRS for its employees. The scheme, based on Gujarat Model of VRS, will be open for employees till 3 December 2019.
All the permanent employees of 50 years and above as on 31 January 2020 can opt for VRS.
As per the VRS plan, employees in the 50-53.5 years age bracket will be eligible for 80 to 100 per cent of the salary while those in the 53.5 year group will be eligible for 125 per cent of the salary.
Those in the age group of up to 55 years pension will be commuted in the sixth year 2024-25 while for those over 55 years pension will be extended as the employee turns 60.
BSNL and MTNL together have 200,000 employees. Of this, 121,000 can apply for the scheme.
The union government will also trim the retirement age of employees to 58 years. The present age for retirement at the state-run telcos is 60 years. With the downward revision of retirement age, almost half of them are expected to retire in the next five to six years.