As many as 54,000 employees of the state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are likely to lose their jobs as the board of the company has accepted a proposal to lay off approximately 54,000 employees, a report by Deccan Herald said on Wednesday. The board is waiting for elections to get over before taking the final call. The report citing a source said that BSNL board approved three out of 10 suggestions proposed by an expert panel set up by the government in the March meeting. Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is unlikely to go through with the layoff plan until the elections are over. “Announcing the VRS package or job cuts and shutting down businesses of the telecom firm would have huge implications on employees and ongoing elections. DoT decided to wait and watch,” sources were quoted as saying. The BSNL board also approved recommendations on the reduction of retirement age from the present 60 years to 58 years, Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for all employees aged 50 and above and expediting the allocation of 4G spectrum to to BSNL. The decision on retirement age and VRS will lead to exit of around 54,451 BSNL employees, which is 31% of the company’s 174,312-strong workforce. The move to trim the retirement age alone will end up reducing the employee count by 33,568 employees and will save BSNL a total of Rs 13,895 crore over the next six years on the wage bill. The average age of BSNL workforce is estimated to be over 55 years. Both BSNL and MTNL were unable to pay salaries to their employees for the month of February. Both the PSUs recently approached the government for financial support and to resolve legacy issues, but the Centre is yet to take any final call.