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Allot 4G spectrum for us: BSNL employees stage strike

Allot 4G spectrum for us: BSNL employees stage strike

Chennai: Demanding the Centre to allot 4G spectrum to public sector BSNL, its employees took part in a three-day nationwide strike across the state, on Monday.

A large number of employees under the banner 'All Unions and Associations of BSNL' (AUAB), staged the agitation demanding the department of telecommunication to take effective steps to revive the public sector firm, and to address their pending demands. The AUAB also demanded wage revision as per recommendations of the II and III pay revision committees.

BSNL staff were demanding allocation of fourth-generation or 4G spectrum to the company, which according to them would help it to compete with rivals in the hyper-competitive telecom market.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, convener of AUAB, M Kanniappan said, “BSNL is the largest Telecom Service Provider in India, having a country-wide presence with over 120 million customers. It is one of the largest and leading public sector firms providing a comprehensive range of telecom services in India. There is no telecom operator in the country to beat its reach with its wide network, providing services in every nook and corner of the country across India, except New Delhi and Mumbai. Whether it is inaccessible areas of Siachen glacier or North-Eastern regions of the country, BSNL serves its customers with a wide bouquet of telecom services.”

For the past seven years, this profit-making public sector firm has been facing serious crisis. The 4G spectrum was allotted to a private operator by the end of 2016. But, BSNL was not provided with 4G spectrum. BSNL unions have been demanding allocation of 4G spectrum to BSNL, so that it would be able to compete in the market and keep up the market share. But, the Department of Telecommunication had denied it to BSNL.

The AUAB also demands that the department permits BSNL to lease out its lands to raise revenue.

“The government had promised that they would revive BSNL. We do not know how they would revive it when they themselves are stacking up odds, truly heavy odds, against this public sector firm,” said an official, on condition of anonymity.

BSNL employees have staged agitations across the state. As many as 1,350 employees staged the protest in Coimbatore. Natarajan, a functionary of the National Telecom Union, said, “The government is favouring new entrants over other firms. The predatory price of Reliance Jio created a crisis in the telecom industry. This would affect all others, including the BSNL.”   

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