Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oil Strike that Crippled the Media

Talk about the Oil strike that 'crippled' the country over the three days. It is unfortunate that the 'elite media houses' have failed once again to be true. What a shame..!!

Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) a conglomeration of officers associations of 14 vibrant and thriving Oil PSUs representing over 55000 officers, was trying to make a case on the systemic subjugation and annihilation of the technocrats of these Corporations by the bureaucracy. And media was out to project as if they were criminals 'unleashing economic terror' on the nation..!! Strong words these.

Lets look at the events as they unfolded:

Pay revision to these officers was due as on 01.01.07, after 10 long years and the same was not finalised even after 12 years. (Some generation gap, one would say..!!). What was eventually announced was a meager 17 % net hike..!! Even if we consider a modest & simple 3% inflation over these 12 long years it should have been nothing less than 36%. (I am not giving the minute details of the numbers involved here because it is there for anyone, who makes a small effort, to find out). And this one time hike is supposed to hold for the next ten years, as the next revision is due only after 10 years as per the present arrangements

And to rub the salt in, this announcement is made by the Committee of Secretaries (COS - read Babus) which has unilaterally brushed aside the recommendations of the learned Justice M Jagannath Rao led Pay Revision Committee for CPSEs, which, for over 18 months, had gone into the whole gamut of issues concerning the pay revision of PSU executives, and made some sensational and far reaching recos. And what does the COS do? Within a month of submission of this report they throw aside these recommendations into the dust bin and come up with a surprise package..!!

Justice MJ Rao, we believe, had a vison, a vision of making these PSU executives into global challengers who could take on the world and still be happy in the environment they were working in. He wanted to bridge the gap between the compensation packages of these throbbing Oil PSUs and the neo-rich Private Oil Companies for whom these PSUs had become the favorite hunting ground for a ready, intelligent and specialized talent. If India wanted to be a world major in the Oil & Gas, this was a pre requisite. This required adequate compensation (not hefty mind you, but adequate) to be paid to these executives and Justice Rao realised this. Inputs were sought and obtained from across the globe, from eminent consultants, intelligentsia and the various stakeholders. There was paradigm shift in the thinking w.r.t the compensation package envisaged. India was at last doing what should have been done decades ago. The ‘Modern Temples of India” were being strengthened against the onslaught of the private MNCs who had cast their eyes on the huge Indian talent. The ‘brain drain’ had began..!!

A package was indeed announced to take cognizance of all of above and much more. A fairly reasonable package we would say, though the Oil executives felt disappointed that the compensation was not comparable to the pay packages of executives in the private sector in India. This is what these Officers of PSUs were trying to bring to the attention of the ministries concerned. ‘Please rationalize our pay else we will be losing all our hard-working brilliant executives to the private oil companies’.

The legitimate Associations of the officers of oil PSUs cried hoarse over the last six months to draw attention of the managements and the ministry to the shortcomings that had crept in the recommendations. Series of meeting were held at the highest levels including the Minister of P&NG, Minister of PE & HI, Secretaries of these ministries, Chairman of the DPE, who have at various times agreed that the demands being made were genuine and even recommended the same to the Government. The Officer’s Associations, on three occasions since Sept’08, issued strike notices to the Managements and the Govt. Representations were made to the PMO by these associations. But alas, nobody felt it necessary to address the issues involved which were going to have a long lasting impact over the lives of over 55000 officers of the Oil PSUs and their families and lakhs of members of the other PSUs. Inspite of deadlines issued, time and again, the people who were supposed to take action, ignored the same.

Looking at the way events have unfolded, it is quite obvious that the babus have sabotaged the whole matter and taken the country to the verge of a precipice. Ministers were fed with false information on the implications of the pay revision benefits. False comfort was given to the political leadership on the consequences of strike calls given by the associations. Managements sympathetic to the cause of officers, were pushed on the back foot with veiled threats. Even as the calls of agitation was getting shriller by the day, recommendations made by the managements on the genuine demands, were brushed aside by the Government at the behest of the ministry officials. What started as a genuine and legitimate movement was being touted as a ‘high-handed act by an obstinate group of officers’.

Let’s pause for a moment to figure out why this was being done by the all and the mighty. (again.. read babus)? Why are these beauraucrats so much against the legitimate needs of the officers community? Why has this struggle become a bone of contention between the more reciprocating managements of the PSUs and the beauracratic establishment within the Govt...?? Is it because the changes being sought in the pay structure would catapult the technocrats above the IAS officers? And to ensure that it doesn’t, is this vested group willing to go to any extent to thwart the attempts..?? Only time will bring out the truth.

However, what we actually know is this:

These officers of the oil sector PSUs are professionally qualified and skilled group of people, who have brought laurels to their respective organisations. Over the years, it is these officers who have gone beyond the line of duty and ensured that the supply lines are live. If today, India is proud of oil PSUs being listed among the Fortune 500 listings and rubbing shoulders with the world leaders, it is thanks to the thousands of such dedicated officers in each one of these PSUs.

Even at times of extreme distress and severe challenges to the country, officers have stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder and ensured that the country’s and organization’s interests are upheld, time and again. Be it at the time of Kargil war, Gujarat earthquake or the devastating Tsunami, all the officers have worked relentlessly round the clock to stand by the nation and have even contributed their salaries to mitigate the sufferings of the masses. Never have these officers found wanting, in their commitment to the nation and to its people. It is associations of such officers who has, on many occasions in the last two years, taken conscious decisions to positively respond to the appeals of the Management and Govt to defer the agitation plans so as to uphold the dignity of collective bargaining, inspite of the strong sentiments to the contrary, expressed by the officers community. That these associations are very balanced, extremely mature and highly motivated is proved beyond doubt, time and again.

And what does the tech savvy media houses and their ill informed reporters see them as? ‘Economic terrorists’, ‘Desh Drohis’, ‘Kasav’s of India’. C’mon, give us a break..!! Can anything else be any farther from truth than this..?? Is the media caught in the clutches of the formidable Govt. machinery?

The elitist media experts including the Shekar Gupta’s and their likes refer to this group of people as ‘greasy palms’ and to quote his lines in one of the recent article posted on line ‘The world, particularly the Pakistanis, must be laughing at us, and LeT and various other Lashkars must be smiling smugly: Didn’t we tell you these Indians, they are a weak state, with weak people, remember the slogan we have loved and believed in for years, “hilti huyee diwar hai, ek dhakka aur do.” (It [India] is a shaky wall, just one more push...).’ Surely, Mr Gupta, you should have known better than that. You are an articulate man, with a deep sense of commitment to the nations interest. People sit up to listen to what you say because you have credentials to have the eyes and the ears of the powerful who matter. But, unfortunately your sense of such commitment was conspicuous by its absence when, for the past couple of years, one highly educated and committed section of the nation was pleading with all and mighty to address their woes. Let me ask one simple question to such opinion makers, Is asking for a just and fair pay structure commiserate with their professional contribution to the nation building, not legitimate? Is it a crime to seek comparable increases in their bottom line, when most of the commercial enterprises across the country were doubling or tripling the wages of their employees to retain them? Is it wrong when we say that a mere 17% net increase over a time horizon of 20 year (1997-2016) was grossly inadequate? Is it criminal to plead “Save us, Save our Companies from the butchery..!!”

Was it not necessary for you to remark on the fact that the Govt machinery was invoking ESMA, NSA with such alacrity? Did you not feel that this was an over-kill? Did it not strike to you that there could be more than what meets the eyes? For media people of such high standing in society, these information are only a couple of phone calls away. NO SIR, YOU DID NOT CHOOSE TO DO THAT? Instead you got convinced by the ‘over 200% hike’ slogan unleashed by the Secretaries and the Govt. For God’s sake, these forceful and authoritarian legislations were not even thought of during gravest security threats, barbaric terrorist strikes and national calamities, but the Govt did not even wink twice before unleashing the might of these laws to throttle the voices of the officers community. And you guys found nothing beyond ordinary when this drama was being played out..??

The Indian media did not even notice, when one section of the Govt machinery finds it necessary to throw well researched and far reaching recommendations on of eminent intellectuals on pay structure revision, into the dustbin.

Let there not be any doubts in the minds of the people of this country, we officers of the Oil sector PSUs do not believe in the ‘a shaky wall, just one more push’ philosophy as mentioned by some pervert thinking intelligentsia. We build the nation, build the communities, build harmony and re-build that shaky wall..!!.

Ask the armed forces of the nation, how many of our officers are with them when they are fighting a war. Ask the Railways and the State Transport undertakings, how we help them move the nation. Ask the Power Plants, the fertilizer units and the food and civil supply depts. They all will tell you what kind of walls we are helping them build. We don’t have to go to the Megasthenes period to find out how Oil sector is contributing to this nation. Just ask the people involved in the above-mentioned segments of our economy. They would tell you.

But you did not find it necessary to ask them. Instead you chose to hear ‘his master’s voice’. You labeled us as ‘rent-seeking sons-in-law of Mother India to resort to blackmail and ransom’. Was it we who really tried to bring the country to a stand still or was it the babus, who failed to appraise the political leadership of the impending crisis. The ones, who waited for the whole issue to reach a stalemate so that precipitative actions could be initiated. And the ones who decided let the country come to a grinding halt and see someone else’s head roll. And someone who said let the heavens fall but we will not succumb to their demands because that would allow them to draw more salary than me.

Officer’s of these Oil PSU’s are a na├»ve lot. They do not believe in the Machiavellian way of getting things done. They had faith in the system and believed that these systems would not let them down. But unfortunately, the systems worked the other way, leaving them with no other options but to fend for themselves. They would have done that probably, but for the evil designs of these babu’s and the well-fed and over weight media houses. So be it. But let there not be any doubt in the minds of these slimy manipulators, these officers will be back, like phoenix from the ashes. And this time more smarter then before. Because now they know their enemies..!!

An Oil man.

1 comment:

  1. What about the meeting in Delhi? What result will it yield if any... And what if still, despite proclaiming sympathy for the oil officers, they get only peanuts, what then?


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