WCL asks VRS beneficiaries to resume duties

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Sep 2018 10:34:48


By Niraj Chinchkhede,

IN WHAT could be the first of its kind of instance, city-based ‘Miniratna’ company - Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) - has been forced to recall some of its staff members, who had opted for Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), for duties. The biggest employer of the region had launched the ‘WCL Voluntary Retirement Scheme 2018’ for a period between July 1 and December 31, 2018, in a bid to bring down costs and improve margins. The scheme was meant only for non-executive staff who were offered lucrative financial benefits for opting retirement.

According to the WCL management, nearly 400 persons had applied under the scheme out of which 79 persons were given approvals and official letters to discontinue duties. The eligible persons were given official retirements in last 45 to 50 days. They were also supposed to get all their retirement benefits very soon. However, the ambitious attempt turned out into a big goof-up as the WCL management skipped necessary approval of Union Coal Ministry. The Ministry has now raised an objection over the scheme.

“We could not take approval of the Ministry as we were not aware of it. But as soon as we learnt that it is essential, we kept the scheme in abeyance and asked the retired persons to resume duties,” Chairman-cum-Managing Director of WCL, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra told The Hitavada on Friday.Soon after the Ministry’s objection, WCL management declared that ‘the scheme has been kept in abeyance’ and began the exercise of asking the retired persons to resume their duties.

The scheme formulated for the existing employees of the company was approved by the Board of Directors of WCL in its 300th meeting held on May 24, 2018. The company also claimed the Coal India Limited (CIL) had also not raised any doubt over the scheme saying that if the public sector enterprise could financially afford the scheme, it may execute it.

Apparently in a damage control mode, Mishra said that the scheme was not ‘canceled’. “It was only suspended for some time. In the meanwhile we are approaching the ministry to get the approval. And soon as we get it, the scheme will be rolled out,” he said. But when asked how long the company will take to get the Ministry’s approval, Mishra was clueless.

WCL, Director (Personnel), Dr Sanjay Kumar said the VRS proposal would be placed before the Union Coal Ministry within next 15 days. Another problem the WCL management is facing is recalling the ‘retired’ staff as a sizeable number of members are shying away from resuming duties. Some of them have either moved out of the city or enjoying the new phase of their life.

“I had been desperately waiting for my retirement since the day the company announced this scheme. I was feeling excited to have been officially retired from the service recently. But when the company asked to resume duties, my excitement turned into nightmare. Besides, the company’s U-turn has disturbed my financial calculations and future planning,” said one of the ‘retired staff’ on the condition of anonymity.

WCL spends 65% of its revenue on salaries

The WCL, which is employing over 46,000 persons, is spending as high as 65 per cent of its total revenue generated on salaries. “Ideally, it should be in the range of 45 to 50 per cent. The main objective of the VRS is bring down the number of employees eventually to cut short the expenditure on salaries,” said Chairman-cum-Managing Director of WCL, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra.

Though the company has recently posed growth in coal production and its dispatch, Mishra had recently accepted that the WCL’s net worth has gone down considerably in last couple of years. For the past few months, the company has been taking various initiatives aimed at consolidating the financial position of the company.