4800 BPCL workers go on 48hr strike against privatisation

The workers fear an amendment to the terms of contract including doing away with their retirement benefits.

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Around 4,800 employees of Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) were on a two day strike to protest against the government’s decision to privatise and the management’s actions to hasten the privatisation of the entity.

Around 15 employee unions of the total 18 participated in the survey.

Out of the 18 unions in BPCL, members of 15 went on strike.

BPCL is India’s second largest fuel retailer and third biggest oil refiner and has a total of 5,400 employees. The strikes were held at its refineries in Mumbai and Kochi. The LPG and marketing depots were also closed on Monday and Tuesday.

According to the employees, the government plans to give the right to review terms of 10-year service contracts to the company management, post June 2020. This in turn will give whichever private management that takes over to amend the terms of the contract and the service period of the workers. Moreover, they fear that their retirement benefits and gratuity will be scrapped if the company goes private.

While the wage revision at BPCL has been pending since January 1, 2017, the employee unions have been demanding a different kind of wage settlement, similar to what has been carried out at IOCL, CPCL and ONGC as per the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises. They have demanded that they should be provided with benefits which are at par with other public sector oil companies as the management offered a marginal revision.

The management staff at BPCL, on the other hand, had their salaries revised as per the Department of Public Enterprises but the same has been denied to the union workers unless they agree to the privatisation move. This effectively means that workers have to agree to the clauses of buying and selling under the terms of the agreement and to the curtailment of their retirement benefits.

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