NEW DELHI: In one of the most-stern messaging to BSNL employees, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has asked them to let go of ‘sarkaari’ attitude, warning the 62,000-strong workforce that anyone not performing well will be made to compulsorily retire and sent home packing. On the much-smaller MTNL, the Minister said that it “does not have any future”.
In a meeting with the senior 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. You should not have any doubt on this. This will be the norm, and this will be the new normal – perform or perish.”
Having led the new bailout package to save the company, the Minister asked the staff to be fiercely competitive now, especially as they have to fight top private sector companies such as Reliance Jio and Airtel for customers, top sources told TOI.
The Minister said, “People who do not work are free to take VRS and go home. If they show resistance in taking VRS, we will use 56J (a Rule used to order premature retirement)… So, you have to perform the best, or be ready to pack up and go home. That’s absolutely clear. Don’t have any doubts about this in your mind.” Vaishnaw pointed out that around 70 officers were asked to retire under Rule 56(J) in the Railways Ministry (a Cabinet charge that is also held by him).
The Minister said that apart from managing operations inefficiently, the staff of BSNL have also failed to provide a clean and hygienic environment at the telephone exchanges and their offices. Giving an example of the dirt and filth that 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 filth over there). It was so dirty, and in bad condition.”
The Minister said that such poor maintenance will not be tolerated, and heads will roll. “The top leadership will be chopped off. I am being very clear. The top leadership will have to go home. People working there and the supervisors over them are also responsible. I am being very clear.”
Speaking about MTNL, the Minister said that the stock-market listed company does not have any prospects. “MTNL does not have a future. We can’t do much there. We all know the constraints of MTNL and what problems it faces. We will do a different exercise for that, and determine what should be the next steps.”
The Minister said that having taken a “risk” of awarding yet another mega bailout for BSNL, he would now be monitoring the performance of the company’s staff on a monthly basis. “Whatever issues were there, we solidly stood 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 swiftly towards launching 4G and thereafter 5G. “You have seen our priorities in great detail. You have to work with clarity, and I want to see the results in the next 24 months. I will assess you, and check the results every month. Work day and night to install 4G.”