Some 8,000 gazetted executives of the state-owned Mahangar Telephone Nigam Ltd continued to strike work for the second day on Tuesday, disrupting services in many parts of Delhi and Mumbai where MTNL is the main provider of telephony services.
The employees rejected the management's offer of a pay revision with 5 per cent fitment benefit. Even as talks were on with the striking union, the MTNL management apologised for the virtual break-down of the telecom services on its network. The Delhi capital region seemed the worst hit, with many newly-elected members of parliament unable to use their mobile phones.
"These people (executives) are not realising the financial implication of their demand of 30 per cent rise in fitment. With this the company will not be able to sustain in the future ... MTNL's salary bill has gone up to Rs2,200 crore in 2009 from Rs1,000 crore in 2003," chairman and managing director R S P Sinha told PTI.
MTNL Employees Union general secretary V K Tomar said the non-cooperation will continue. The Class I and Class II officials of MTNL in New Delhi and Mumbai have resorted to non-cooperation, and the management has accused them of deliberately cutting cables or damaging equipment to disrupt services.
Meanwhile, MTNL on Tuesday claimed that it had restored the telecom and internet connections for most of the areas in the capital. ''We have stabilised the network throughout Delhi, except few pockets in South Delhi like Hauz Khas and Nehru Place, where our people are working to restore the telephone connection in the next two hours. Internet connection is normal all over Delhi including these pockets,'' MTNL director (technical) Kuldeep Singh said.
However, his claims were belied by the experience of users in both Delhi and Mumbai, who continued to face disruption of both telephone and Internet services.
Cyber cafes in both cities were packed through Tuesday.
Navi Mumbai was particularly hard hit, with erratic telephone and internet services till well into the evening. Offices located there, including domain-b, found the going tough during election days when efficient broadband and telephone services were most needed to receive and disseminate information. Services continue to be unreliable till date.
In Delhi, the situation at the Indira Gandhi International Airport remained chaotic on Tuesday, as airlines had to carry out several tasks manually, including issuing of boarding cards. This led to several flights getting delayed by up to two hours.
Delhi International Airport officials confirmed that all MTNL lines were down. Sources also said that telephone lines within the airport were also not functional.
"We were able to receive calls but it was not possible to make outgoing calls. There are several officials whose mobile numbers we do not have and contact them on the internal line. This was not possible on Monday and led to severe chaos, especially since the airport has been seeing a lot of VIP movement in the past few days,'' The Times of India quoted an airport official as saying.
Airlines expressed surprise that there were no backup facilities. "The internet is used for some extremely important and essential work and it is strange that there is no back-up for the same. The new terminal 1D was specially affected as passengers kept arriving and it was taking just too long to check them in,'' the spokesperson of a private airline was quoted as saying.
While things had improved by Wednesday morning, further disruptions cannot be ruled out till the strike is resolved.