New Delhi: At least 1.76 lakh employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have not been given their salary for the month of February as the state-owned telecommunication company is under financial duress. The telecom firm has been in the red for more than five years.

The employees have been protesting and the union has written to Telecom minister Manoj Sinha asking the government to release funds to the company so that they are paid their salaries and the company is revived.

It is for the first time that the company has defaulted on the payment of salary. BSNL’s 55 per cent revenue goes toward payment of wages and the company’s wage bill reportedly increases by 8 per cent annually but the revenues are stagnant.

The financial crisis being faced by the telecom operator is being attributed to the pricing of Reliance Jio. A letter by All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) read, “Financial crisis is being faced by other operators also but they are managing the situation by infusing huge amounts.”

As per several reports, BSNL has started paying the salaries for February to its staff in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and the corporate office. Reportedly, salaries for the month of March might also be delayed by a few days.

It is also being speculated that the BSNL board has approved a proposal to avail bank loan but the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has not given a green signal.

BSNL has been incurring losses consecutively over the past five years or so. It reported a loss of around Rs 8,000 crores for FY18, compared to Rs 4,786 crore in FY17. For FY19 also, the loss is expected to be higher than Rs 8,000 crores.