Can we get some professionals here – BSNL employees

Some employees want new management at BSNL. The unions have sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This is one of the finest proactive approaches I have seen in the recent past. The employees have exceeded expectations. In some parts of the world this could be called ‘bitching about the boss’.

Here is the crux of that letter:

Appoint a new management team selected through National search for talented professionals outside the government. 

Yeah right. How about a written test and a group discussion after that? Once the talented professionals outside the government come to BSNL, they become part of the government don’t they?

This company cannot survive under such servile management, which, we are sure, cannot rise above the interests of the lords. (source)

What guarantees do we have that the new management will rise above the interests of the lords? It further goes:

“The criterion cannot be just Indian Telecom Services (ITS) seniority, based on redundant performance mechanism which cannot be the parameters to decide top slots to run a gigantic company virtually in shambles today,” the SNEA said, in its letter.

I agree to that one. Old is not always gold.

BSNL unions (not necessarily the same unions) have objected to BSNL’s IPO plans in the past. How is IPO related to the management and the performance? It is related. There is really no motive for the management to run the company. Maybe a rolling stock ticker could give it. When private players entered the telecom sector, BSNL enjoyed the ‘first mover advantage’. It did nothing but cherish that position and lost its footprint steadily. Now it is being displaced by every other new entrant. BSNL management is staring at a dead end. The Indian telecom sector itself is in its toughest phase.  Newer, nimbler companies are finding it hard to stay afloat. BSNL doesn’t even have a chance. What it needs is a revamp. That means a lot of red tape. Cutting through the red tape is a tall order with the current set-up.

Though it’s a public sector unit, BSNL’s management is not responsible to anyone. It’s is almost like a unlisted family business. The worst that could happen to BSNL is, it would be classified as a sick PSU. Changing the management alone would not help. Nothing is going to change until there is a partial privatization.  If the stake is sold to different private partners they will take care of the management part. Then the management will not be servile and will rise above the interests of the new lords – the shareholders.

Suggested Reading: Who can help BSNL?