Thursday, January 22, 2009

Letter to Editors of Newspapers by Aggrieved Officers

Dear Editors

First, we thank on behalf of all the PSU oilfield officers for bringing out the real facts behind the oil strike recently by some newspapers. It was a moment of grief and deep disappointment when we were called ‘Deshdrohis’, ‘Traitors’, ‘Blackmailers’, etc.

Sir, officers of Oil PSU's are not goondas, gang leaders, anti-social elements or terrorists to take the country for ransom. They are all educated, responsible and dedicated officers of the most profit making and fortune 500 companies. It is very easy to enact ESMA and threaten an upright middle class man who went through the right procedures before going on strike in our democratic country. Officers and their families are deeply disturbed, demoralised and demotivated by the actions of the government and the media.

We definitely feel there is a bigger conspiracy and some vested interest to tarnish the image of these profit making Navratna PSU's. These are world class companies providing huge revenue to the goverment and subsidies to the common public.

Here are some of the recent government actions to ponder

1. Reliance had closed its petrol pumps due to crude oil price, no ESMA or nor they are deshdrohis.
2. Private air-liners like JET and KingFisher had stopped flights few months back, government had financially bailed out for 3 to 6 months time for repayment of ATF charges. (& that too at the cost of PSU oil companies who were asked to extend credit when we all know that the Oil Cos are losing money due to high crude prices)
3. JET airways had sacked its employees, government and political parties intervened to stop them from such actions.
4. Satyam carried out 7000 crores fraud and government plans to bail out with financial aids.

However if an oil psu worker goes on strike as a last resort after repeated failure of talks and inaction from government officials for more than 2 years, then he is a Deshdrohi, Traitor, Blackmailer…etc.

India is a great democracy with a liberalized economy and visionary leaders like our Prime Minister, dismantling APM in Oil sector and providing opportunities for private sector to explore our country for oil & gas through NELP. In this competitive environment, PSU’s are no more charity organizations nor are the employees working for charity. These Oil PSU's have to compete with private companies like Reliance, BG, Shell, Cairn Energy..etc. To compete you need good performance, and for good performance you need motivated working employees and officers. Many experienced and talented officers have left these PSU's and joined Reliance and other Pvt companies because they provide better pay and facilitites. It is this attrition which led to the demands to save the Oil PSU's from becoming sick units.

Its was quite surprising how media had misinformed the general public by reporting that junior officers had a starting pay of Rs One Lakh. An experienced Oil PSU employee gets below Rs.50000/- even after rendering 10 – 15 years of service. Moreover, it is quite illogical to compare the salaries of high court judges with PSU officers. Can we compare the powers, authority and status of judges, collectors or defence officers to a PSU officer, who is an ordinary citizen by status. Oil PSU officers did not ask salaries comparable to the IT industry which is very highly paid. Demand was only to compete with private oil players like Reliance, reduce attrition and prevent national oil companies becoming sick units. I quote the former MoP&NG Mr. Mani Shanker Aiyer " If you pay peanuts, only monkeys will be left in ONGC."

It was quite heart-breaking to listen to the media calling our officers ‘Deshdrohis’, ‘Traitors’, ‘Blackmailers’, etc. Media was totally biased and hijacked by the government with the help of private oil players and vested interests. Media outright rejected to report the officers view and demanded huge amounts in several lakhs of rupees to air and present the real facts. A corrupt media will lead a nation to disaster.

OSOA did not go on strike overnight, they put their demands long back, had informed the government ministry about resentment in the pay revision package. Oil companies had several meetings with management and govt. officials past two years, had carried out dharnas, hunger strike, work to rule, etc before issuing strike notice when all talks and promises failed. Even the strike dates were defered for various reasons, what was the govt. and the petroleum ministry doing all this time? Officers had resorted to strike after losing their patience due to the INACTION of Government officials. Why questions are not raised against these bureaucrats?


Jai Hind

Sincere Officers (Names withheld to avoid draconian measures by Govt.)

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