Officers of public sector oil companies have threatened to launch an indefinite strike from September 5 to press for their demands for a salary hike.
"Despite repeated pleas, we have not heard from the government even once. As such, we have decided to launch an indefinite strike from September 5," Oil Sector Officers' Association (OSOA) convener Ashok Singh said.
OSOA is a representative body of executives of all public sector oil firms. The body also submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard on August 4.
Public sector oil employees are demanding periodic pay revisions every five years; 100 per cent Dearness Allowance neutralisation with effect from January 1, 1996; 50 per cent DA merger; and immediate release of additional stagnation increments.
The association is also seeking an entry level salary of Rs 50,000 per month (from Rs 20,000 per month) for management trainees and commensurate rise in emoluments at senior levels.
Sources in the petroleum ministry said that the ministry has already made its recommendations to the Department of Public Enterprises favouring the demands of the oil PSU officials.
"It is now up to the DPE to take a decision on the issue," the sources said.
However, the oil officials say they are yet to hear from any government department or the ministry.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora too had appealed to the officers of the state-owned oil companies to call off their agitation, as the government was considering all their demands sympathetically.
Singh said that the present compensation package of oil sector PSU executives is much below the prevailing salaries in the market place as a result of which there is a large-scale exodus of skilled manpower to MNCs and private sector.
If the officers go on strike, the first to be affected would be the aviation sector.
According to estimates, a halt on aviation refuelling would cost the exchequer around Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) per day.
OSOA, which represents one-third of the 130,000-strong workforce in PSUs, including ONGC, IOC, OIL, BPCL, GAIL and HPCL, had last struck work on January 11, 2000, which had crippled the aviation sector.
Besides, work at the refining facilities and production platform at ONGC will also be affected if the strike takes place.
A strike in the oil sector could mean a loss of Rs 164.5 crore (Rs 1.645 billion) on oil sales of 522,000 barrels a day and Rs 17.28 crore (Rs 172.8 million) on gas sales of 54 million standard cubic metres a day.
Loss of production for value added products like naphtha, high speed diesel and kerosene is expected at 9,300 tonnes per day.