BPCL workers allege company cut salary for going on strike
Mumbai: Employees of the state-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), who participated in a nation-wide strike on 8 January, have alleged that the company cut four days' salary.
Of the total salary cut in January, one day was based on the principle of “no work no pay" and the remaining three days were penal deduction, said Praveen Kumar P, general secretary, Cochin Refineries Employees Association, an affiliate of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
"Unions' argument is that the imposed wage cut is illegal and against natural justice. Unions went on the strike following all the legal proceedings, including 14 days’ notice as per the provisions of Industrial Dispute Act," said Praveen Kumar.
A BPCL spokesperson, in an emailed response, said the matter was sub-judice and the company would not like to comment on the same.
"The workmen resorted to strike on 28.11.2019 and 08.01.2020; even though the matter was pending in conciliation and also various High Courts had passed orders restraining the unions from resorting to strike," he said.
"Drawing reference from the laid down statutory provisions, penal wage deduction was imposed on all the striking workmen. Some of the unions have submitted their complaint before the Labour Commissioner (Central) whereas some of the Unions have challenged the management’s decision in the High Court. However, so far no interim relief has been granted by the Hon’ble High Court. In view of the matter being sub-judice, any further decision shall be taken based on the outcomes of the pending litigation," BPCL added.
Kumar said the unions have raised this issue before the parliamentary committee on labour at Kochi and also before the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central). But, no organization, whether government or private, imposed penal deduction for participating in the strike, added Kumar.
Employee unions from other public sector undertakings such as Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporporation Ltd (HPCL), Indian Railways, Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL), and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) had joined BPCL in the nationwide protest.
Kumar claimed that BPCL had effected a similar wage cut of two days last year following the strike by petroleum companies' workers on 28 November. The matter is pending before the Kerala High Court.
The Joint Convention of Petroleum Workers, a forum representing all trade unions in the public sector petroleum units in the country, has also planned a another nationwide strike across units of BPCL on 20-21 April. A notice would be served on the management on 4 April.
In solidarity with BPCL employees, other workers of public sector oil companies will go on mass casual leave on 20 April. They will also join protest demonstrations on 21 April.