BSNL Strike December 2010


Statement of support for BSNL workers strike:

From the 1st of December this year, the workers of BSNL , India’s largest telecommunications provider, and one of the largest public sector companies in India, are on strike. The strike is against the divestment of state assets and the massive attacks on the working conditions and welfare of the workers in BSNL. The Rights of workers and living conditions achieved in India result from years of struggle against the capitalist system. The government attacks target all the victories won by the class in constant militant struggle. The Indian government’s economic, social and political offensive against millions of workers is ruthless and massive, but the struggle of the BSNL workers will be a watershed. We give our unconditional support to the strike called by the BSNL workers and employees under the banner of the JAC.

The demands raised in struggle are the following :

The abolition of the Pitroda Commission Recommendations :

The Pitroda commission is recommending huge lay offs and retrenchments under the guise of a retirement scheme for employees as well as a massive sell-off. These plans are part of a coordinated long term drive to break the militancy of the working class in BSNL and to hand over one of the leading state sector companies to India’s conglomerate owning families. The consequences of this would be devastating . Thus far, such a move has been pioneered by the congress government at the centre who are by a million strings attached to precisely these families.

Stop discriminating against BSNL!  :

Time and again the ruling government in power and particularly the Congress government has treated the BSNL in a discriminating manner. It has been held back from access to some of the best technologies in the market as well as having to pass through unwarranted bureaucratic hurdles to keep up competing with other private firms currently dominating the telecom market. Such discrimination has no justification and must be immediately halted.

A review of existing employment policies :

The present existing wage schemes for workers do not include pension benefits which have been halted since 2007. Also a review is needed on the pay scale and an overall increase of wages must be put into effect. Furthermore, the complications arising out of the absorbsions of employees of the ITS need urgent resolving. We demand that proper steps be taken to resolve this most urgent issue.

Whilst the aforementioned demands broadly describe the approach of the struggle as it stands we believe the following demands should be raised to take the struggle for the BSNL forward

1) Accountability and direct workers participation in all decision making process of the company :

State control over industry is meaningless if it is subjected to the whims of pro-capitalist bureaucrats who are more than willing to sell off public wealth at throw away prices. To ensure that the gains arising out of state ownership benefit the people, the workers who are the life and blood of the corporation must have a decisive say in running the company.

2) Guaranteed employment and good wages for all employees! :

We demand that adequate employment guarantee be granted to all employees working in BSNL which include a pension scheme for all new entrants in work. As well as increases in wage pay for both permanent and contractualized workforce. We also demand that contractualized workers be treated at par with permanent workers in BSNL without any loss of pay to permanent work force.

3) Make BSNL a model company for the country :

BSNL is one of the foremost public sector companies in India. To serve the interests of all people in the nation this essential industry must be given all necessary technical, political and legal assistance to become a model of efficient and democratized planning and development. It must be seen as an inspirational model of class infrastructural development for the prosperity of all citizens.

We call for national level solidarity of all state sector employees to come forth in defense of their rights and for the defense of public assets and state corporations in the greater welfare of the people.

The demands needed to save BSNL aren’t limited only to BSNL or to any single corporation for that matter. They are in essence part of a much broader struggle. To make the struggle for BSNL a true success we must mobilize behind these demands to a higher level of militant struggle culminating ultimately in a nationwide general strike in solidarity with all BSNL workers.

For a United Struggle !

United we rise divided we fall. For the struggle in the BSNL to succeed we need to make sure that the struggle remains a solidly unified one. For this we propose a network of nationally coordinated network of strike committees.

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