BSNL, MTNL stare at manpower crisis after successful VRS

VRS was offered to more than one lakh BSNL employees and 16,300 MTNL staff.

State-run telcos BSNL and MTNL may face a huge manpower shortage after the successful conclusion of the voluntary retirement scheme that saw 92,685 employees from the companies accepting the offer. While 78,300 BSNL employees – more than half of the current headcount — opted for VRS, more than 75% of the total staff strength of MTNL took the offer. With 14,378 MTNL employees deciding to retire early, MTNL will have to operate with 4,117 people, less than a fourth of its current strength of 18,500.

The companies are likely face a severe manpower shortage in their telephone exchanges and broadband maintenance departments, said a senior BSNL official. The crisis will be extremely severe in those circles that saw 100% of staff in certain crucial departments took the retirement option, he said on condition of anonymity. In the case of a staff shortage, the government may ask some employees who have accepted the VRS offer to continue on a contract basis. It may also transfer some 200 Indian telecom service officers to the BSNL and MTNL to tide over the manpower crisis, the BSNL official said.

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The VRS scheme that was launched on November 4 had offered the retirement option to more than one lakh BSNL employees and 16,300 MTNL staff. Once the VRS and other staffing issues are sorted out, the government may merge the companies as per the cabinet decision on October 24.

The offer met with an enthusiastic response in BSNL in the initial days, forcing the management to request some key employees to withdraw the VRS application. In MTNL, the management had to threaten staff with transfer liability to make them accept the offer, the official said.

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BSNL had expected 83,000 employees to opt for VRS, while 15,000 MTNL staff were expected to take the offer. The scheme offered up to 125% of the salary for the remaining years of employment to the permanent staff of both the companies above 50 years of age.

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