Esops a bait, indefinite strike if IPO comes through: BSNL Union

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New Delhi, Aug 7 (UNI) The Joint Forum of BSNL Unions/Association today reiterated that it will go on indefinite strike if the IPO of the state-run telecom firm is not shelved.

The statement came after the Union's meeting with Telecom Minister A Raja and the board of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.

Employees are expected to be offered sops, which include shares at discounted rates. The Union has been offered that each employee will get 500 shares at the face value of Rs 10 each.

''The offer is not lucrative. But it is a bait for the approval of the IPO. We will oppose the IPO completely and go on an indefinite strike,'' Union Convener VAN Namboodari told reporters here.

BSNL has 3.14 lakh employees in the country and a nation-wide agitation of such a scale would impair the system on a large scale.

The unions are against the BSNL management's contention that listing is necessary for expansion and grant of navaratna status.

Faced with opposition from its unions and the Left parties, the government had shelved BSNL's IPO twice.

BSNL is expected to dilute 5-10 per cent of its stake through the IPO, which is likely to be brought out by March next year, with the shares to be listed at Rs 300-400.

The BSNL employees' union, which has the backing of the Left parties, admitted that the political development at the Centre may have weakened their negotiating powers.

The company is in the midst of finalising a tender for 90 million lines worth about nine billion dollars. The telecom major plans to utilise the proceeds from the IPO to roll out CDMA-based mobile network and a pan-India broadband infrastructure.

With th IPO, BSNL's valuation would go up to Rs 4,00,000 crore, putting the telecom major into the top brass of telcos globally in terms of market cap.

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