Grumbles begin over move to pay BSNL staff on par with MTNL

The union government has decided to bring parity between the pay scales of employees at Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (the state-run telecom operator for Mumbai and Delhi) with their counterparts in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which runs government telecom services in the rest of the country.

At present, MTNL workers get higher pay compared to BSNL employees. This will be rectified at the time of next wage revision in 2017, according to a report in The Hindu.

The move to bring about parity in pay and pensions is part of the government's overall plan to revive the two public sector telecom companies.

''The liability of the government towards pension of absorbed employees of MTNL may be restricted to the equivalent scales of similarly placed employees in BSNL. In case MTNL decides to pay pension on the basis of existing pay scales, the liability arising from the same shall be borne by MTNL,'' a top government official was quoted as saying.

The decision to bring parity in pay scales was made at the last meeting of the empowered group of ministers on telecom. However, MTNL employees said the government proposal may not be accepted by the workers' union.

High wage costs have been a concern for MTNL. Salary and pension expenses of MTNL employees are more than its revenues.

In addition to the pay scale, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has presented to the EGoM a multi-pronged strategy to revive the two public sector undertakings. For example, the DoT has offered to take over the debt of MTNL and BSNL in return for their surrendering broadband spectrum.

While MTNL has a debt of around Rs8,400 crore, BSNL owes Rs2,500 crore to various creditors.