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Govt using wage pact, stock scheme to ‘tame’ BPCL employees ahead of privatisation: unions

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on October 05, 2020 Published on October 05, 2020

Can't give management unilateral right to overhaul the agreement after 3 years, says workers union

The government is looking to ‘tame’ employees of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) in a bid to check resistance through litigations against the privatisation of the state-run refiner. A long-term wage agreement and employee stock purchase scheme (ESPS) are being used as levers to achieve this goal, say employee unions.

The offer of shares under ESPS is “subject to the applicant not being party to any challenge to the proposed strategic disinvestment of BPCL, whether individually or through any collectives and whether by way of any litigation or by way of any representation/complaint to any authority whomsoever”, says a BPCL document.

Clause 1 (f) of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on wages and other matters signed between BPCL and two unions representing marketing workmen for 10 years, states: “The management reserves the right to review and revisit the MoA once every three years, with first such review due w.e.f. 01.06.2022.”

 

BPCL has eight unions representing marketing workmen. The two unions that signed the MoA on September 24 are the Shiv Sena affiliated BP Karmachari Union (BPKU) in Mumbai and the AITUC affiliated Petroleum Workers Union in Delhi. The MoA was discussed by the management with the BPKU alone.

The wage agreement signed by the two unions includes 95 per cent Dearness Allowance merger and 12 per cent fitment. BPCL is now coaxing the remaining six marketing workmen unions and eight unions representing workmen at Mumbai and Kochi refineries to sign the same MoA though the terms of the wage agreements for marketing and refineries were always different. These unions are seeking 100 per cent DA merger and 15 per cent fitment, similar to what was signed by other oil PSUs as per norms of the Department of Public Enterprises.

VRS-linked undertaking

BPCL is also asking employees who have taken voluntary retirement recently to sign an undertaking, accepting all the terms and conditions of the long-term settlement (LTS) on wages while leaving the company, to get the benefits. This undertaking is being sought irrespective of whether the employees who have opted for VRS are members of the two unions or not and even from those continuing in service, potentially to bypass the resisting unions.

“Can we give the management such unilateral right to overhaul a wage settlement after three years by giving three months’ notice. If we sign this agreement, we will never be able to challenge any dispute arising out of it in courts. It will not even be entertained by the courts,” says Aji M G, general secretary, Cochin Refineries Workers Association, which is affiliated to the CITU.

BPCL did not respond to an e-mail sent on October 2 seeking comment.

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Published on October 05, 2020
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