Law soon to ban oil strikes

The government is set to bring a bill in parliament making it illegal for oil sector employees to go on strike.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published: February 19, 2009 1:39 am

The government is set to bring a bill in parliament making it illegal for oil sector employees to go on strike. The Petroleum Sector Employees (Prohibition of Strikes) Bill,2009 will ban strikes by all categories of employees of oil companies including contractual staff and employee associations,sources in the petroleum ministry told The Indian Express. The bill is likely to be introduced in the current session of parliament,the sources said.

A three-day strike by nearly 55,000 employees of state-owned oil companies demanding higher salaries and perks paralysed the nation last month with fuel pumps and gas outlets running dry and air traffic getting disrupted. The striking oilmen backed off after the government took a tough line,sacking 70-odd officers,invoking ESMA and calling in the Army to maintain supplies.

According to the draft of the proposed law,striking oilmen will face,in addition to strict disciplinary action including summary dismissal,jail terms of up to a year and/or a fine up to Rs 50,000.

But,the most striking feature of the proposed law is that it allows police to arrest striking employees without a warrant. Arrested employees will not be released on bail unless the prosecution has been heard by a magistrate and given an opportunity to oppose the bail plea.

Another tough clause provides for summary trials by designated courts.

Oil employees who will lose their right to strike work if the bill is passed include those involved in exploration,drilling,processing and distribution. They include all types of employees,whether in managerial,supervisory,non-managerial,manual or contractual labour categories.

Sources said many provisions of the proposed law are not in sync with the Industrial Disputes Act,1947 — something that could lead to opposition from some parties.

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