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Indian oil workers call off strike

Officers of public sector oil firms call off strike within hours of going on agitation to press for higher wages.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2007 14:35 IST

Within hours of going on an indefinite strike, officers of public sector oil companies on Tuesday called off their agitation after the government agreed on a higher interim relief in lieu of delays in revising their wages.

"We had talks with the Petroleum Minister Murli Deora this morning and he has agreed on higher interim relief for the period from January 1, 2007, when wage revision was due," Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) coordinator RP Srivastava told PTI in New Delhi.

About 45,000 officers in state oil firms including Indian Oil, Oil and Natural Gas Corp, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, began their indefinite strike from 0600 hours to press for merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance with basic pay, release of ad-hoc payment and withdrawal of tax on perquisites like company-provided accommodation.

However, the strike was called off within four hours.

The strike had threatened to cripple aviation refuelling and refinery operations, oil and gas production and auto fuel as well as domestic cooking gas supplies.

Sanjay Goel, president of officers union in ONGC, said the Petroleum Ministry had accepted their demand for giving an interim relief of Rs 60,000-1,20,000 per employee.

Last evening, Deora had offered Rs 50,000-1,00,000 interim payment which was rejected by OSOA.

The Petroleum Ministry had declared the strike illegal as various High Courts had refrained the officers from taking such an action. Besides being liable of contempt of court, the officers also faced severe disciplinary action.

Petroleum Ministry had contested the OSOA strike saying oil sector officers were amongst the highest paid in the public sector.

"Therefore, for them to repeatedly seek redressal through the means of strike threat is totally incorrect and not in keeping with the best tradition of public service," a ministry release said.

The ministry had put in place a contingency plan to maintain supplies to all sections, including aviation and defence.

The government had also threatened to invoke Essential Supplies Maintenance Act (ESMA).

First Published: Aug 21, 2007 10:41 IST