The Causes and Consequences of the BSNL workers strike


– Comrade KrantiGarjana

Major workers unions in BSNL called a strike on 1st and 2nd Dec

Their main Demands were:
1) Govt compensate for the losses on 3G spectrum allocation.
2)Effect a roll back on Disinvestment of BSNL.
3)Provide Advance Technology to BSNL.
4)Make the company free from bureaucratic obstacles
At the end of the strike none of these demand could be achieved.
Throughout its history, the telecom sector has seen a decided discrimination in favor of private enterprises and every Bourgeois Govt in power under the direction of their Capitalist boses used the public sector telecom units as cash cows. Be it the BJP or the Congress both followed a policy of actively undermining BSNL. The situation became particularly adverse after the ‘liberalization’ of the economy. As a result of increased competition faced from private companies in the telecom sector, coupled with discriminatory practices of the government, the BSNL employees were pushed in the direction of militancy to defend their company. Obviously, the government’s attitude aims towards fully privatizing the company much to the detriment of the workers and employees . It was against this backdrop that the decision to strike was called. The final straw for the workers were of course the spectrum scandal.
The strike itself was unsuccessful in meeting any of its demands. The reasons put forward by the unions to abruptly call of the strike were :
1) To keep up competition with the pvt sector companies *(where militancy is less)
2) Customer welfare. i.e. minimal difficulty to the customer
3) To keep good relations between private corporations and the government
Thus, we see the core reason for BSNL’s present dismal state of affairs is due to the intention of the bourgeois governments and their bureaucrat lackeys.
The strike in Calcutta like the rest of the country was carried out in a most bureaucratized manner by the unions. But in Calcutta the workers openly disobeyed their union bureaucrat bosses and gatecrashed their way back to work by breaking the picket line. These workers who broke the picket weren’t scabs or from unions affiliated with the bourgeois parties, but active members of left wing unions which called the strike. This act was an open mutiny against the bureaucratization of the union and of the leadership. Incidents like this point towards the failure of the unions to present a militant alternative for the working class in BSNL . The net result of such unionism is that workers lose faith in the unions.
The only solution before us now is towards building a new militant working class leadership which can fulfill the much desired need for working class militancy at BSNL.
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