Since 2014, 18,717 PSU jobs cut in oil & gas sector; workforce trimmed by 16.5%

The total number of jobs in oil and gas PSUs was 1,13,048 in 2014, and it dropped to 94,331 in 2022-23
Since 2014, 18,717 PSU jobs cut in oil & gas sector; workforce trimmed by 16.5%
Since 2014, 18,717 PSU jobs cut in oil & gas sector; workforce trimmed by 16.5%PSU Watch

New Delhi: Since 2014, oil and gas PSUs have cut 18,717 PSU jobs, government data shows. The total number of jobs in oil and gas PSUs was 1,13,048 in 2014, and it dropped to 94,331 in 2022-23. In percentage terms, the cut makes for a 16.56 percent drop in the total number of jobs. The job cuts came even as the profit of oil and gas PSUs soared. According to a statement released by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on Friday, the net profit of three major oil marketing companies owned by the government have soared several times between 2013-14 and 2023-24. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited's (HPCL) profit rose 824 percent between 2013-14 and 2023-24, while Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) saw its profit go up by 561 percent during the period and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) witnessed a rise of 515 percent in its net profit during the period.

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Historical data analysis: Jobs in oil & gas PSUs

The total workforce of CPSEs under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas stood at 1,26,397 in 2002. Since 2002, there was a gradual decline in jobs which trimmed the workforce to 1,11,864 until 2008. Post 2008, the total number of jobs in oil and gas PSUs increased to 1,12,870 in 2009, 1,13,427 in 2010 and 1,13,773 in 2011. In 2012, the total number of PSU jobs in oil and gas sector reduced to 1,13,196 and further down to 1,12,771 in 2013 before increasing again to 1,13,048 in 2014. Thereafter, the strength of the workforce has declined to 1,10,613 in 2016, 1,10,053 in 2017, 1,07,877 in 2018, 1,06,733 in 2019, 1,03,832 in 2020, 98,028 in 2021 and 95,186 in 2022.

Data for the last six years show that the exploration and production, marketing and Research and Development (R&D) were hit the hardest and lost between 20-24 percent of the workforce. Refineries, on the other hand, saw their strength decline by 3 percent, while the pipeline sector saw an increase of 7 percent in the workforce.

Clerical jobs record biggest cut between 2017-2023

Executive and managerial jobs reduced by 6 percent between 2017 and 2023, while supervisory jobs reduced by 28.78 percent, clerical jobs were cut by 28.95 percent and the number of workmen employed was down by 22.54 percent.

As far as sectors are concerned, the exploration and production sector saw the biggest decline in the executive managerial workforce at 27 percent during the period. Managers and executives employed in refineries increased by 15 percent, while managers employed in R&D departments reduced by 16 percent.

The share of management/executive positions in total employment at oil and gas PSUs rose from 54.5 percent in 2017 to 60 percent in 2023. While 29 percent of the total workforce in oil and gas PSUs comprised of workmen, 4 percent of the total were clerks and 8 percent were in supervisory roles in 2023.

What is causing job losses?

The trend in India is in line with that witnessed across the world. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Employment (WEE) report for the year 2023, despite a rebound in oil and gas revenues to record highs and an increase in investment in 2021-22, oil companies did not increase hiring, possibly due to lingering uncertainty around long-term employment needs and instead relied on oil field service companies and other contractors. The report said that the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated sweeping layoffs in the energy industry, however, the clean energy industry has posted a better recovery in comparison to fossil fuels. “Clean energy sectors added 4.7 million jobs globally over the same period and stand at 35 million, while fossil fuels jobs recovered more slowly after layoffs in 2020 and remain around 1.3 million below pre-pandemic employment levels, at 32 million,” said the report. An industry source who spoke to PSU Watch pointed to greater number of jobs being outsourced to contractual workers and the deployment of automation as the other reasons behind a decline in the number of jobs. Another source pointed to the imperative given to PSUs by the government to have a lean and efficient workforce in order to compete with the private sector. “It is a trend visible in the entire public sector, especially in PSUs that have traditionally employed a big workforce. This is not limited to the oil and gas sector,” said the source.

Since 2014, 18,717 PSU jobs cut in oil & gas sector; workforce trimmed by 16.5%
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The issue of jobs is a major poll plank as India goes to vote in the General Elections for 2024. The Congress has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre of taking away PSU jobs and diluting reservations through privatisation. On May 6, the Congress accused the government of being responsible for 2.7 lakh job losses in Central PSUs and the share of contract workers rising from 19 percent in 2013 to 43 percent in 2022. “PSUs play a crucial role in inclusive growth, both through the development of backward regions and through the generation of employment for vulnerable communities. The BJP’s willy-nilly handover of state assets to a couple of the PM's friends at throwaway prices, and the massive job losses that followed have highlighted that for PM Modi, corporate interests will always trump the wellbeing of the people,” Congress’ Odisha unit posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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