Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Government is celebrating their “Success"

The Oil Strike is called off. The Government is celebrating their “Success”. The “Educated” Oil Sector Officers have “surrendered” in front of the Bureauocrat-Politician Nexus. Public sympathy is against the Oil Sector officer’s. Electronic Media is up-against the highly paid officers. But the saddest part is democracy is no where to be seen.

There are three issues to the whole fiasco. The first is the democracy. The law of justice says there should be equal opportunity for each side to put up their point, in front of all. But there was total dark of the “Other side of the story”. The media never bothered to get those views. The Officer’s Association was not allowed to move freely in the democratic country with the arrest looming large on their heads. They couldn’t come to the public with the fact about what their demand was and how the strike has gone out of their hand? For how long they were demanding in front of ministers and beurocrats together and for how many times they were betrayed by these ministers, backing off from their promises. The “Khoji Patrakarita” was no where to be seen. Ministers were giving full media coverage with their mis-representation of the facts. No view was even sought from the officer’s community.

The second issue is “who created the crisis”? Can the educated mass of this country, “willingly”, put the country on ransom?. Even in the wildest imagination of their dreams, they could not have thought that the strike will continue for more than three hours, as they were convinced that the PM of the democratic country will immediately hear their point of view and some solution will definitely come to the crisis. That too this was their last resort, after pleading with the government for last two year or so. But Petroleum secretary and the petroleum minister managed the show, such that the matter reached PM only when every thing was out of control. No body will have the sympathy towards a cause when public is facing such crisis. The political parties certainly will not have. This was the precise calculated strategy of the petroleum secretary and the ministry. But the most disheartening part is the role of electronic media who highlighted the issues only when everything was out of hand of everybody. Ministry has given the assurance of “Essar” and “Reliance” coming for the rescue when need be. Where were they? They are the fellows who closed their petrol pumps when Crude prices were rocketing high, as high as 147$ a barrel, and selling petrol in the country was only a loss making proposition. They diverted all their products to export to gain the profit rather than sustaining the loss but serving the country. They agreed to come for the rescue when their stocks are piled up, as the crude prices are too low now and their product prices are not competitive in the international market. So they eyed their opportunity in the crisis, if the same could be created. They connived with the ministry to create this crisis. But in absence of their marketing network they could not succeed to sell their piled up products, although they were successful in creating the crisis. Now they are eying for privatization of some of the assets of these PSUs so that they can use the same at no additional costs. Government could have used the repressive tactics right on the day one when they were not talking to the officer’s community. But they waited for the crisis to be created. Now reliance is telling they went away because they were not subsidized by the government. They are making the country fool once again. Governemnt doesn’t subsidise the petroleum products but it is the PSU who directly borne these subsidies.

The third issue is “what were the demands of Oil sector Officers”? At present they are classified as A1 group of public sectors, who have many autonomies with regards to their pay and perks. Justice Mohan Rao Committee, which was set up to recommend the pay structure for the new pay revision, has also re-instated the said categorization of A1 companies. All Navratna “Companies” were in this category. While recommending the pay revision for public sectors, DPE abolished this A1 category. So now IOC was also to get the same salary as HEC or Balmer Lawrie. With this, officers in many grades in oil sectors were to get less salary, after revision, from what they are getting up till now. This is because the pay revision was being effective from Jan’07 and many perks were going to be reduced as their percentage is much lesser in the A category in comparison to earlier (and proposed on Justice Rao Committee also) A1 category. The main demand of the Oil Sector Officers was to reinstate the A1 categories to these public sectors. The work ethics and the working environment in Oil sector is not same as in other sectors. They are still profitable and able to sustain the competition of private players like Essar and Reliance because of this only. The risk of life is also too high in these companies. The recent accident at Reliance Refinery at Jamnagar is testimony of the same where three engineers have died in the recent blast of compressor. The similar accidents have earlier taken place at Panipat Refinery and Digboi Refinery with too many casualties. To be competitive in the current market, the oil sector employees work for more than twelve hours, almost daily, sacrificing their social and personal lives. In return definitely they want a better salary and perks than others. The Justice Rao committee has proposed a “Risk Pay” component also to the salary. But the government had abolished the same.

If you analyse the present pay structure, all the scales have an upper slab. Whenever any revision takes place, the salary touches the higher slab, irrespective of grades. Thus the stagnation starts to occur within a year. Justice Rao Committee had proposed the removal of such upper slabs from the salary structure. DPE had not removed these upper slabs in their recommendations. They had also not indicated whether they will consider the stagnation pay or personal pay while calculating the revised basic pay or not. All the revision was with periodicity of ten years and the Oil sector officers was demanding these to be of five years considering the present volatile market conditions. These were the main demands, which were not being accepted by the government for last one year. Even the individual management were of the view that what DPE has proposed in a minuscule hike in the salary and they were also partially in support of the Oil Sector Officers agitation, till the government used their whips and force, by calculated manipulation of public sympathy in their support and creating the crisis by purposefully not talking to the agitating officers and creating the panic in the public with the help of electronic media like Aaj Tak, and Star News, who clearly proved to be a saleable commodity.

The present propaganda of an entry level officer getting more than a lakh per month is again a one sided propaganda. They want to say the Oil sector executives are getting more than 12 lakhs per Annum. Even the best offers in IIIMs are not more than Rs 10 Lakh per year on CTC basis. Then why the IIM graduates are not joining the companies like IOC and ONGC, instead they are going for MNC s and other private companies with such a lesser salary. Why the attrition rate is too high in Oil sector PSUs. The fact is that the monthly take home salary of an entry level A grade officer is hardly twenty to twenty five thousand. And contrary to the present industrial trend an officer in E grade (Four grades higher than the entry level officer) is getting only Thirty to thirty five thousand of rupees. Even if one adds every tangible and non-tangible facilities, this salary could not go above Rs One lakh. But the newspaper and electronic media is showing the things other wise.

The fact is Oil Sector officers are a responsible educated lot of this country, who do not know how to manipulate the things and who have never thought of manipulating the things in this democratic country. The only fault they did was to adopt the path shown by our great leaders like Mahatman Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to go on strike if your legitimate demands are not being heard in a democratic country. They forgot that this is not the same country. The Political Goondaism is much-much above the gentleman’s approach. As they could not bear the fear of getting sacked from their well earned jobs, they succumbed to the goondaism of Political establishment. They cannot take the path of confrontism. They cannot imagine of being inside a lockup, leave aside the jail. They couldn’t see the country men accusing them for the oil crises. They could not digest being presented as Villain of the society. So they chose to call-off the strike and start the work so peacefully, as if nothing has happened. They understood the fact that democracy is only for the name sake. In this country, without abiding by the wills of the politicians they cannot even survive as only The Mighty have Powers, Media and public sympathy in this country, not the bare Fifty thousand odd educated officers who toils hard through out their life to serve this nation day-in and day out and come no where in the vote bank politics of the politicians, as they vote by mind and not by heart. So they are finally defeated and called-off the strike.


KUMAR, A. PRASANT" kumarap@iocl.co.in

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