Cash-strapped Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) — which saw as many as 78,570 of its employees opt for and retire under the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) — has started outsourcing the operation and maintenance work of its customer cares in several telecom circles, sources in the know of the issue told The Indian Express.
In many states such as Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, nearly all customer care service representatives who were on the rolls of the debt-laden telco had opted for the VRS scheme that was offered to BSNL employees in October last year. The staff crunch has led to a backlog of repair and maintenance complaints, which in turn has over the past 10 months also led to frustrated customers opting for broadband connections of private telcos, an official in the know of things said.
“With many people gone, all the task of repair and maintenance has fallen back on the few people left behind. There is no money to hire new technicians, so we have decided to outsource work to other private agencies,” an official with BSNL said.
For example, in the Kerala telecom circle, BSNL has already outsourced the repair and maintenance, collections of bills, issuance of new numbers, handling of bill related complaints as well as bio-metric updation work to third parties in districts like Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram.
The telco may look to outsource these jobs to private third parties in other districts of the state and as well as other states once the report from Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram is satisfactory, an official said. “Initially when we outsourced some work, the bidders which won did not have the relevant experience and were not equipped with adequately trained staff. We have now tightened norms of the new tenders and are giving preference to firms which have worked with BSNL in the past,” the official said.
It is also aimed at streamlining BSNL’s operations and reducing its expenditure on wages and remunerations, the official added.
BSNL, which saw about half of its total employees opt for the VRS, is finding ways to cut costs in order to ensure survival. While the VRS, rolled out in October last, cut BSNL’s wage bill by half to Rs 650 crore, the telco is also looking at other avenues such as leasing buildings and selling spare land to raise money for operations.
Other than leasing building and selling land parcels, company officials had said that they had identified other assets worth about Rs 20,000 that could be done away with. “We have approached DIPAM for sale of these assets and clearances should come soon,” an official said.
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