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BPCL imposes 8-day wage cut on employees who took part in Sept 7 & 8 strike

The management of BPCL has told its employees that it will deduct eight days’ wages from the salaries of those who took part in the nationwide strike

The management of BPCL has told its employees that it will deduct eight days’ wages from the salaries of those who took part in the nationwide strike.
  • While the BPCL management has announced penal deductions for 6 days, wages of two days are being cut on ‘No work-No pay’ basis, a document accessed by PSU Watch showed

  • Without limiting the generality of the foregoing submissions, the representations to the said Show Cause Notice are found to be unsatisfactory,” the BPCL management said

New Delhi: In line with the warning issued earlier, the management of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has told its employees that it will deduct eight days’ wages from the salaries of those who took part in the nationwide strike on September 7 and 8, an order issued by the management accessed by PSU Watch showed. While the BPCL management has announced penal deductions for 6 days, wages of two days are being cut on ‘No work-No pay’ basis, the document showed. The employees who took part in the two-day strike were given a show cause notice on September 9 and were asked to submit satisfactory response for proceeding with the strike despite the restraining order issue by the Kerala High Court and the pendency of conciliation proceedings before the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), Cochin. 

“Without limiting the generality of the foregoing submissions, the representations to the said Show Cause Notice are found to be unsatisfactory,” the BPCL management said in the notification. “In view of the above and keeping in mind the gravity of the act of workmen to resort to illegal strike during the pendency of conciliation proceedings and in total violation of the order passed by the Hon’ble High Court, it would be proper and reasonable to deduct wages of eight days for each day’s strike in accordance with the provisions in the Certified Standing Orders applicable to workmen in Kochi Refinery and principles enunciated under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, in addition to wage deduction on principle of “No work-No Pay” for the said day(s),” it added.

Strike impacted normal operations significantly: BPCL management

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, the BPCL management said, “The impact of strike cannot be limited only to operational or financial loss. With the workmen involved in regular operations being absent from work, the normal operations were impacted in a significant manner.”

“The deduction of wages for illegal strike from 7 am on 07.09.2020 to 7 am on 09.09.2020 is in accordance with the provisions in the Certified Standing Orders applicable to workmen in Kochi Refinery and principles laid down in the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and the Corporation is well within its rights to take guidance from legislative wisdom contained in the Act,” it added.

What do the unions say?

In a statement issued to the media, MG Aji, the General Secretary of Cochin Refineries Workers Association, said, “The workers of BPCL was forced to go for a strike due to the adamant stand of The Mgt. (sic.), for compelling the 14 Trade unions out of the 16 Trade Unions in The BPCL, to follow the cue of the 2 Trade unions in the marketing division that had reached on an agreement with them, without further discussions.”

“Hence The Mgt’s version of conducting a strike during the course of conciliation doesn’t stand a chance. Further, The Mgt. (sic.) have no judicial right, to term the strike as illegal; citing the honorable High Court’s decree, since The Govt. themselves have issued the order to abstain from any dismissal or disciplinary actions against the workers, on the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic. In these circumstances, we request The Mgt. to repeal their unlawful decision of penal wage deduction of the workmen, who participated in the strike,” said Aji.

Also read: Day 1: BPCL strike sees strong 84% turnout; ops at Kochi, Mumbai refinery hit, say unions

Speaking to PSU Watch, Praveenkumar P, General Secretary of Cochin Refineries Employees Association (INTUC), said, “The deductions have come as a huge blow for employees because it forms a sizeable chunk of their salaries. So, the unions are prepared to contest it. We are considering challenging the decision in the Kerala High Court. The trade unions are set to hold a meeting tomorrow where the future course of action will be discussed. We are not going to sit idle.”

The backdrop

The trade unions have claimed that the long term settlement (LTS) offered by the management is an “eyewash” as it makes provision for the new owner to revoke or modify any benefit promised to the unions in the document, which effectively nullifies the agreement. Alleging that the BPCL management is deviating from DPE guidelines to the workers and thereby, reducing benefits, the trade unions went on a two-day nationwide strike on September 7 and 8 to protest against the issue.

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