Let us Understand the Track
Any overdoing is unpardonable. After getting this feeling, I reported com SSG of Kovai that I should stop writing anything further on this subject. But another room of my mind is agitating that it is unfair if some perception is felt and the same is not communicated to the co-stakeholders.
During the time of VRS, I was in a great stress to get something verbatim that ‘VRS Pensioners are also getting Pension as per 37 A only’ must be obtained , as there was no provision in the conditions given in 37 A for getting pension in that VRS way. Though some friends and leaders were confident, they also could not provide me anything in writing specially telling the exact words 37 A. Nothing wrong on their part, they were convinced by the CMD. But my mind was continuously in stress and efforts to get something in writing were made. The RTI reply given to me helped finally to settle my mind in peace. But why for VRS pensioners’ a different account other than the Pension account is still regurgitating and I have yet to find a reasonable reply from the DOT or concerned authorities or from anybody.
Regarding the issue of Pension Revision, I have written already many pages- sometimes well taken and some critically rejected. This one is addition to that and I do not know how it will be received. But I request you all Kindly go through the following carefully and I hope it may help the concerned to think over the issue where we have to negotiate and where not in today’s context without allowing any more time on other non issues in this track.
All along in this period, we have in our hand 5 important written docs of DOT which are in a way revealing the mind of DOT. This does not mean they will not change their position after hearing some reasonable inputs from the stakeholders. The available docs are
1.DOT’s letter dated 11th oct 2022 inviting associations for 17th meeting
2. Note sheet approved before oct 17th Meeting
3. Power point presented to the Associations on 17th oct meeting
4. Minutes of the 17th Oct Meeting
5. Letter addressed to Associations on 17th NOV
In these entire docs except the first one, pension revision proposal is found on IDA merger without fitment benefit and placing in the corresponding scales. Entire docs speak only 3rd PRC.
A. one main argument of the Association is well taken by the DOT and the same is reflected in the note sheet
“Pension of Combined service pensioners is being paid by the Govt and it is not connected with affordability and profitability of BSNL."
Here their worry is about the anomaly as on pension revision, these Pre 2017 pensioners will get higher pension than similarly placed pensioners retiring after 1st Jan 2017. The most important point mentioned here is ‘similarly placed pensioners’. This we should not miss.
B. For an another emphatic argument (even till this date) of the association , the reply of DOT is reflected in the note sheet
".. the demand of these IDA pensioners for applying fitment factor of CDA on their current IDA pay scales is not supported by any logic and does not seem to be rational. This has also been endorsed by various court judgments filed by these PSU pensioners/ Associations."
C. While replying to the observation of DOPPW, the following proposal is placed by the DOT
“..It is proposed that in the absence of any benchmark for revision, the benefits of 3rd PRC may be extended to the Pensioners by merging the basic and IDA/DR as on 1--1-2017 with NIL fitment factor and placement in the revised pay scales of 3rd PRC."
“This would ensure that the pensioners are not placed below the minimum of the 3rdPRC scales. Further, as and when 3rd PRC is implemented in BSNL/MTNL, the same fitment factor may be extended to all the pensioners"
Here the DOT statement is partially correct but partly incorrect. In the case of Executives ( DOT has given illustration for Executive scales only in their PPT) and BSNL is not going to decide any fitment and it is beyond its purview . DOT only has to notify the same with Pay scales. If DOT feels any difficulty in pushing any fitment between 5 to 15 %, then it should tell its inability instead of throwing the ball to the court of BSNL which is unfair and to some extent not an act of honesty. The question arises here is whether DOT is going to notify Pay Revision of Executives with or without fitment or only pay scales. This is the most important question regarding the Unions
D. Additional Cost for the above proposal that DOT calculating is 5 % of the existing cost
"Total pension outgo of 2021-22 for 3, 57,129 IDA pensioners were 13459 cr...The financial implications of merger of basic with DA and placement in 3rd PRC scales, would be roughly around 5 % and more accurate implications can be calculated once the proposal is accepted in principle"
If even 10 % fitment is considered the additional cost may go minimum 22 % of the existing cost that is roughly 3000 cr more and if 5 % fitment then the additional cost may be 1500cr roughly instead of the present 700 cr of DOT. It is up to DOT to convince the DOE and cabinet for the fitment benefit once Pension revision is placed for the consideration. Regarding BSNL’s burden and additional cost , BSNL should inform the DOT/Unions.
E. DOT's proposal on the Observation of DOPPW On the question of Anomaly
" For removing anomalies vis-a-vis post 1-1-2017 pensioners, the pension of post 2016 pensioners shall be revised on the notional pay derived after merging the basic with IDA as on 1-1-2017..subsequent updations on notional basis till his retirement for post 2017 retirees. In this case PPO not on the basis of last pay drawn, but on the basis of notional pay so derived..This will require amendment of rule 44 of CCS PR of 2021 which stipulates amount of pension at 50 % of emoluments or average emoluments whichever is more beneficial to employee"
This point need to be clarified and Associations should discuss this matter with DOT/DOPPW to understand what are the implications of preparing the PPO in notional Pay and how this post 2017 pensioners PPO preparation varies from the Pre 2017 PPOs. Unions should also understand this issue as their present members is going to get PPO on notional pay as per this proposal. This matter needs serious attention. Whether this amendment leads to any repercussion to post 2027 is also a matter to be thought over .
In addition to Rule 44 another preliminary requirement from DOPPW is relaxation of Rule 37 (15) (a) of 2021 regarding emoluments based on the pay drawn in the public sector as per IDA pattern. What is this relaxation instead of 'Pay drawn in the public sector’ to 'notional pay fixed but not drawn' or in some other form that need to be discussed and sorted out. This is the task not only of Associations but of Recognized Unions also. This if read between lines may go no need of any Pay Revision for settling the issue of post 2017 retirees.
But our experience in the case of 78.2 notional fixations is different. If so why these amendments/ relaxation? It is bounden duty of DOT to enlighten the stakeholders to understand these issues and the implications - impacts correctly.
DOT letter dated 11th oct, 2022 inviting associations for the 17th meeting placed the agenda as
" To discuss the issues regarding request of Pension of BSNL/MTNL absorbed employees as per 3rd PRC w.e.f 1-1-2017"
DOT's letter to the Heads of Associations dated 17th Nov 2022 clarified the following
" As far as PENSION Revision of BSNL/MTNL pensioners on combined service, on the basis of 7th CPC is concerned, it is clarified that the recommendations of 7th CPC are applicable only to CGE who are getting pay/pension on CDA patteren."
" On delinking pension revision from pay revision in BSNL/MTNL it is clarified that at present the proposal is to revise the pension by merging basic plus IDA as on 1-1-2017 without any fitment factor for pensioners as well as future retirees who are working at present. However, as and when pay revision as per 3rd PRC takes place in BSNL/MTNL the same fitment factor which is extended to serving employees will be given to pensioners"
"..BSNL/MTNL have been requested to provide the pay scales of Non- Executives, if decision has been taken, so that total financial implications can be computed before sending the proposal to DOE"
From the above paras one can understand that DOT is reiterating the approved note sheet positions only not budging an inch regarding the question of fitment and indirectly not allowing BSNL to have any Pay Revision settlement with fitment factor but allowing BSNL to have a limited settlement with the Unions on Pay scales only. Unless DOT notifies some fitment for Executives while considering the issue of Pensioners with some fitment, then this issue would not be solved amicably.
The Unions should be conscious whether the wage committee is going to recommend with the consent of Unions any pay revision on the proposal of DOT like merger of IDA on 1-1-2017 without fitment or with some fitment to all its serving employees since Jan 2017 or mere pay scales only as required by DOT for pension revision of Pre 2017 and post 2017. I request the Unions to be vigil on this aspect and do some break through by recommending only pay revision to all its employees whether absorbed or DR employees. This can be possible only when DOT issues PO for Executive Pay revision. It seems that DOT is intended to notify only the DPE scales in the case of Executives and expecting BSNL to notify NE pay scales only. That is my concern.
It seems that DOT is not willing to approach the Cabinet for the relaxation of BSNL for the Pay revision of Executives but only willing to give solace when they become pensioners after 1-1-2017 that also by notional pay in PPO.
I am repeatedly telling that the big task is on the shoulders of the recognized Unions to bring the break through. They may help the pensioners by accepting only pay scales in the wage committee, what many call as delinking, but only at the cost of postponing pay revision (the question of eligibility is there).
I request both the Associations and Unions to consider discussing the issues of amendments/ relaxations proposed by DOT for the approval of DOPPW
Let us hope the best without making anybody victim on these issues. My best wishes to all who are all breaking their heads for some amicable settlement.
12.30 hrs 11-12-2022 - R.Pattabiraman