Message by Com Aji MG, General Secretary, Cochin Refineries Workers Association (CITU)
2002 Days Without Long-Term Settlement
Kochi Refinery Workers’ One-day Satyagraha
23 January 2024
From 7:30 am onwards
The management’s refusal to renew the Long-Term Settlement, which expired on July 31, 2018, and grant a reasonable salary revision to the refinery workers, is utterly inhumane.
The only obstacle to wage revision is BPCL management’s insistence that it will be allowed only if the unions sign a settlement agreeing to give up even the limited rights guaranteed to workers by the country’s legal system.
Even after 2002 days, the management has not been able to justify denying BPCL workers a salary revision similar to workers in other public sector oil companies, while BPCL officers are receiving salaries and benefits akin to those given to officers of all Public Sector Oil companies, as per Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines.
The current situation of workers is dire. Many people will not receive carry-home pay in the coming months of February and March. Regardless of performance, there are vacancies but no grade promotions. Medical domiciliary block granted for two years is exhausted before one year’s completion. We cannot continue like this for long, and it is this fact that compels workers to the field of struggle for completely reasonable demands.
The LTS Dispute was referred to the labour department in June 2021. The hearing has not started in CGIT even after 935 days due to the absence of a Presiding Officer since August 2022. The dispute of Mumbai Refinery Unions is under consideration of CGIT. As Mumbai CGIT lacks a Presiding Officer, Calcutta CGIT was in charge of Mumbai CGIT, but it has now been shifted to Lucknow CGIT, leading to the cancellation of the hearing scheduled on January 8 and 9. The Supreme Court is considering the case of interim relief, but the court is yet to make a statement.
As the legal process drags on endlessly, we have to explore other options to obtain LTS on time. The BPCL corporate management previously displayed a completely negative attitude towards the workers’ demands, but little change is evident now. We believe that the reduction of parents’ medical deductions and discussions about revising PRMBS are part of this positive change.
If this indicates a willingness to correct deficiencies, we request the management to be prepared for an open discussion to resolve the deficiencies in the LTS Draft.
What is the relevance of a long-term settlement if the unions have to sign and give the right to the management to unilaterally amend any provision of the LTS?
The management states that no benefits will be withdrawn or changed under this provision. Then why not remove these provisions from the LTS draft that are never intended to be implemented? The management argues that this clause is present in the LTS signed by the marketing and Mumbai refinery, hence the clause cannot be waived.
But how many LTS signatories in Marketing and Mumbai Refinery are covered by this provision? It does not apply to most people, as this provision is not applicable to those who have retired from service and those who have received officer promotions. Moreover, the majority of those in service will retire within the next two or three years. However, the situation of Kochi Refinery workers is different; here, the mean age of the workers is less than 35.
We demand that Kochi Refinery workers should be allowed a salary revision similar to other public sector oil companies, excluding contradictory provisions against the basic principles of the conciliation agreement. It is on this just demand that a satyagraha is organized at the refinery gate from 7:30 am on January 23, 2002, the day since the expiry of the LTS. CITU Ernakulam district president John Fernandes will inaugurate the one-day satyagraha.
A solidarity march will be held from the IREP gate on January 23 at 5 pm under the leadership of the CITU Ambalamedu Coordination Committee, declaring solidarity with the Satyagraha of refinery workers, followed by a concluding meeting. CITU Ernakulam District Secretary Mr. PR Muralidharan will inaugurate the meeting. CK Manisankar, B Harikumar, NK George, KK Elias, and MY Kuriachan will address Satyagraha.
Everyone is requested to be a part of the fight for fair LTS and participate in Satyagraha and Solidarity March.
With best regards,
Cochin Refineries Workers Association