The staff association of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has decided to defer its indefinite strike till September 1.
The association has instead decided to start a nationwide propaganda on its three key demands: Navratna status to BSNL; a blueprint to ensure the Nigam's financial viability; and increase in the size of the originally-proposed 45.5-million-line GSM order by 50 per cent.
Speaking after a meeting of the association leaders, union leader VAN Namboodiri said, "We have postponed the strike and will instead start a nationwide campaign for our demands. We also plan to have a national convention of our members in New Delhi soon."
The association, which has over 320,000 members, had met Communications Minister A Raja on Monday and demanded that the size of the 45.5-million-line tender be increased by 50 per cent.
It had also demanded rescinding of the decision to drop 3G lines from the tender. Union leaders said Raja assured that a fresh tender for the second phase of the contract would be issued soon. He did not commit on other demands, the leaders said.
The leaders told Raja that any delay in placing the order would jeopardise the position of BSNL, which had been losing mobile market share to the private sector.
The staff association had, a few weeks ago, gone on strike against the delay by the department of communications in finalising the order for the GSM lines.
Union leaders point out there is no justification in reducing the size of the contract. They argue that under the new contract, the price per line had not come down, as was promised.
Raja, who took over from Dayanidhi Maran, had asked the BSNL board to relook at the tender and investigate as to why companies like Motorola had been disqualified. His query was based on the questions raised by parliamentarians on the deal.