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BSNL contract workers 'pushed' to suicide? Demand to pay pending dues since 2019

Counterview Desk 
India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has floated an online signature campaign to gather support for its letter to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with a copy to the chief general manager (CGM), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), New Delhi, calling upon them to disburse pending payments since 2019-20 to its contract workers.
Insisting that BSNL authorities must “uphold the right to work and livelihood of thousands of contract employees of BSNL in West Bengal”, it also said, the authorities of the top telecom public corporation must ensure that “all the employees are taken back into work”, for begin consultation with the BSNL Bachao Committee, a representative body of the joint contract labourers (JCLs).

Text:

We, the concerned citizens and people’s organizations from West Bengal and across India are writing this letter with an earnest request to ensure justice to the contract workers of BSNL-Calcutta Telephones District (CTD), covering many districts (partially or fully) across West Bengal. They have been facing a dire situation in the last 2.5 years and your urgent intervention is required in this matter.
There are Joint Contract Labourers (JCLs) who were suddenly thrown out of their job, without any notice, either by the contractor or CTD management, as the principal employer. They were working with the BSNL since 20-25 years and have made a valuable contribution in extension and perfection in the BSNL telephone services, as everyone is aware of; yet they face utter injustice due to becoming jobless, which has even pushed them into ‘suicides’.
Meanwhile, the BSNL’s divisions, on considering 55 years as age of retirement also made many workers bear the brunt of change in the service conditions, since October 2019, including discontinuation of ESI benefits. Most unacceptable is the fact that at least 4,600 JCLs were not paid even for May and June 2020 when they had worked for full months (26 days), in spite of the lockdown.
In most of the BSNL exchanges also, JCLS were not paid for 26 days (but were only paid wages for 8, or maximum 13 days) for the months of September, October, November and December 2019 and January, February and March 2020. All these arrears must be immediately paid to all the workers, with due interest.
We feel extremely anguished and agitated to see how the public sector is badly affected due to reckless privatization
The unfortunate decision to change JCL system to SLA has, on one hand, resulted in the unemployment for all the 3,500 workers who are not absorbed in SLA, and on the other affected the service of Calcutta Telephones, since the CTD has lost the experienced contribution by the JCLs.
We feel extremely anguished and agitated to see how the public sector is badly affected due to reckless privatization, through promotions and concessions granted to the private corporates, who have become billionaires, while the employees and workforce suffering deprivation and destitution.
We, therefore, request your urgent intervention, challenging the wrong done by the Union Labour Ministry, to safeguard the right to life and livelihood of the workers from your state. We expect that you would stand by the injustice meted out to these workers and ensure employment to all the JCLs, who are willing to re-join work with old or new contractors. 
A detailed system with the benefits due to them maybe discussed with the BSNL Bachao Committee, a fairly representative body of hundreds of JCLs and others in alliance with them.

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