Few oil cos may join Dec 2 strike

Written by Energy Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 29 2008, 06:48am hrs
Oil companies have assured the petroleum ministry that key operations pertaining to refineries, petrol pumps and flow of oil and gas from onshore and offshore installations will not get affected, despite the Oil Sector Officers Association's (OSOA) call for indefinite strike in oil PSUs, beginning December 2. The strike has been called to press for higher wages.

Chiefs of state-run oil and gas companies including IOC, HPCL, BPCL, ONGC, GAIL and OIL have informed the ministry that the strike called by OSOA was being boycotted by at least 70% of the executives from these companies.

"Most oil company officers have decided against joining the stir," said a senior petroleum ministry official.

OSOA, which claims to represent 55,000 executives of 14 oil PSUs, on Tuesday announced an indefinite strike despite Delhi High Court's November 17 order restraining it from going on strike till the next hearing in February.

Petroleum secretary R S Pandey and heads of oil PSUs said they have drawn up a blueprint of a contingency plan to keep operations running even in the event of the strike. While Hindustan Petroleum was never part of the agitation called by OSOA, executives from Indian Oil, Engineers India and Oil India have since Thursday disassociated from the agitation as they felt it was not right to precipitate the crisis facing the country, the meet was informed.

Officers in gas utility Gail India and Bharat Petroleum had assured that operations would not be allowed to be disrupted because of the agitation. IOC chairman Sarthak Behuria said the Government had given a liberal 40-200% hike in wages and set up an Anomalies Committee to address grievances.

"OSOA feels it is a meagre rise but according to me it is a good package," he said ONGC chairman RS Sharma said the strike call was unjust and "the management will take recourse to unpleasant disciplinary steps if they persist".

HPCL chairman and managing director Arun Balakrishnan said the proposed wages were fair, given the global economic downturn. Petroleum minister Murli Deora on his part appealed to oil sector officers against such an "irresponsible step" that could disrupt fuel supplies and halt oil and gas production in the country.