NEW DELHI: In one of the sternest messages to BSNL employees, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has asked them to drop the ‘sarkaari’ attitude and warned the 62,000-strong workforce that anyone not performing well will be forced to retire and sent home packing. On the much smaller MTNL, the minister said it “has no future”.
In a meeting with the top management of the struggling telecom PSU, Vaishnaw – who just spearheaded a massive Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package for BSNL – said, “You have to do what is expected of you. Otherwise pack up. Make no doubt about this. This will be the norm and this will be the new normal – perform or perish.”
After ushering in the new bailout to save the company, the minister asked the staff to be fiercely competitive now, especially as they have to fight top private sector companies like Reliance Jio and Airtel for the customers, top sources told TOI.
The minister said, “People who are not working are free to take VRS and go home. If they show resistance in taking VRS, we will use 56J (a rule used to order early retirement)… So you have to provide the best, or be ready to pack up and go home. That’s for sure. Don’t doubt this in your mind.” Vaishnaw pointed out that around 70 officers were asked to retire under Rule 56(J) of the Railway Ministry (a cabinet charge which is also his own).
The minister said that apart from managing the operations inefficiently, the staff of BSNL have also failed to ensure a clean and hygienic environment at the call centers and their offices. Giving an example of the dirt and grime he faced at a BSNL exchange in Jharsuguda, he said, “Chullu bhar pani main doobne kaa mann kare, itni gandagee thhee. (I was ashamed to see the dirt over there) . It was so dirty and in bad shape.”
The minister said such poor maintenance will not be tolerated and heads will roll. “The top management will be cut off. I am very clear. Senior management will have to go home. The people who work there and their supervisors are also responsible. I am very clear.”
On MTNL, the minister said the listed company has no prospects. “MTNL does not have a future. We cannot do much there. We know all the limitations of MTNL and what problems it is facing. We will do another exercise for it and decide what should be the next steps.”
The minister said that after taking a “risk” in awarding yet another mega bailout to BSNL, he would now monitor the performance of the company’s staff on a monthly basis. “Whatever the issues were, we stood solidly behind BSNL. And now we are asking for the same level of commitment from each and every one of the 62,000 employees. I will measure the KPIs, the performance, the result every month.”
He asked them to work quickly to launch 4G and then 5G. “You have seen our priorities in great detail. One must work with clarity and I want to see the results within the next 24 months. I will evaluate you and check the results every month. Work day and night to install 4G.”