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BPCL cuts 4-day wages of staff who took part in protest

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New Delhi: The salaries for January credited into the accounts of employees at state-run BPCL (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd) has prompted some unions to take the management to court. Employees have claimed that the management has ‘illegally’ deducted four days’ wages of those staff who took part in the January 8 protest and the November 28 agitation in 2019.

“BPCL management has imposed four-day wage cut on BPCL workers who participated in the National Strike held on January 8, 2020 from their January salary,” said Praveen Kumar P, General Secretary, Cochin Refineries Employees Association (INTUC).

Management confirms wage cuts

In an emailed response to PSU Watch, the BPCL management confirmed that wage deductions have been imposed on employees for taking part in the strike. “At the outset, we would like to clarify that the matter is sub-judice and it will not be appropriate for us to comment on the same. However, as a matter of fact, pursuant to the strike called by Unions in protest against various policies of the government of India, 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. (sic.) Drawing reference from the laid-down statutory provisions, penal wage deduction was imposed on all the striking workmen,” the management said.

Out of the four-day wage deduction, the one-day deduction is based on the principle of “No Work, No Pay” and the remaining three days are penal deduction.

Unions say they followed all legal proceedings under ID Act

Commenting on the matter, Kumar said, “The imposed wage cut is illegal and against natural justice. Unions went for the strike following all the legal proceedings, including 14 days’ notice as per the provisions of the Industrial Dispute Act.
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Unions have raised this issue before the Parliamentary Committee on Labour during their sitting at Kochi and also before Dy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central).”

Management had warned of 8-day pay cut in Nov 2019

A notice, addressed to “all workmen” of BPCL and signed by Chief General Manager (HRS) in November 2019, had said that proceeding with the strike during the pendency of conciliation proceedings was prohibited under Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and will attract eight-day penal deduction. It had also said, “Since the decision is already conveyed by the government and due processes will unfold, striking work at this point in time would not serve any purpose and would only lead to avoidable disruptions in fuel supplies as well as highly avoidable wage and penal wage deductions of 8 days if the strike takes place. Besides this, it would also lead to unnecessary disciplinary processes if the circumstances so warrant.”

The backdrop

The news comes as employees at BPCL have been holding agitations to across India to protest against the government’s decision to privatise the state-run retailer. The Joint Convention of Petroleum Workers, a forum representing all trade unions in oil PSUs, has planned another nationwide strike at BPCL on April 20-21. A notice in this regard is expected to be served to the management on April 4.

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